The Great Patriotic War
Clockwise, starting from the upper left corner: the Soviet IL-2 attack aircraft in the sky over Berlin, the German Tiger tank in the Battle of Kursk, the German bombers Ju 87 (winter 1943-1944), the shooting of Soviet Jews by Einsatzgruppe soldiers, Wilhelm Keitel signs the act The surrender of Germany, the Soviet troops in the Battle of Stalingrad
The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 - the war of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics against Nazi Germany and its allies (Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Finland, Croatia).
Having gained a military victory over Germany, the Soviet Union made a decisive contribution to the defeat of Nazism in Europe.
- Date: June 22, 1941 - May 8-9, 1945.
- Location: Eastern and Central Europe, the Far East, the waters of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.
- Reason: Germany's aggression.
- Result: The victory of the USSR, unconditional surrender of Germany.
- Changes: The collapse of the Third Reich, the division of Germany, the formation of a socialist camp in Eastern Europe.
"Never again" This year in Ukraine, at official events dedicated to the Victory Day, the European symbol of the memory of the fallen in the war will be used - the red poppy.
| Soviet Union
Poland (until January 19, 1945)
| Germany [~ 1]
Adolf Gitler †
Fedor von Bock †
The forces of the parties
| Total mobilized 1941 - 1945
14,197,000 people 
| Total mobilized at the WF 1941 - 1945
The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 - the war of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics against Nazi Germany and its allies (Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Finland, Croatia). Having gained a military victory over Germany, the Soviet Union made a decisive contribution to the defeat of Nazism in Europe.
- 1 Title
- 2 Background and causes of war
- 3 Nazi plans for the USSR
- 4 The situation by June 22, 1941
- 5 Forces that fought on the side of Germany
- 6 Territory of military operations
- 7 Main periods of the Great Patriotic War
- 8 The first period of the war (June 22, 1941 - November 18, 1942)
- 8.1 Summer and Autumn Campaign 1941
- 8.1.1 The beginning of the war
- 8.1.2 Main events of the summer-autumn campaign 1941
- 8.1.3 Defensive operations of groups of fronts
- 8.1.4 Results of the summer-autumn campaign 1941
- 8.2 The Winter Campaign of 1941-1942
- 8.3 Summer - Autumn of 1942
- 8.1 Summer and Autumn Campaign 1941
- 9 Results of the first period of the war
- 10 The occupation regime
- 11 The period of the radical fracture
- 12 Results of the period of radical change in the war
- 13 The third period of the war
- 14 The end of the war
- 15 Battles, operations and battles
- 16 Losses
- 17 The USSR and the anti-Hitler coalition
- 18 Opinions and assessments
- 19 See also
- 20 Notes
- 21 References
In the years 1914-1915. The title "Great Patriotic War" was sometimes used in unofficial publications for the First World War  . For the first time this phrase was applied to the war of the USSR with Germany in the articles of the newspaper Pravda on June 23 and 24, 1941  and was initially perceived not as a term, but as one of newspaper clichés, along with other similar phrases: " Sacred people's war "," sacred national folk war "," victorious domestic war ". Russian historian Oleg Budnitsky noted that the name of the "Great Patriotic War" was born by analogy with the Patriotic War of 1812  . The term " Patriotic War " was fixed by the introduction of the Military Order of the Patriotic War, established by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of May 20, 1942. The name is preserved in some post-Soviet states (Ukr .: Velika Vitschiznyana Vinyna , Belar Vyalikaya Aichynna Vaina , Abkhan Akhynyat-yalat and Eibashira do , etc.). In countries that were not part of the USSR, where Russian is not the main language of communication, the title "Great Patriotic War" is practically not used. In English-speaking countries it is replaced by the term - Eastern Front (World War II) , in German historiography - Deutsch-Sowjetischer Krieg , Russlandfeldzug , Ostfeldzug (German-Soviet war, Russian expedition, eastern campaign).
In the 21st century, in the Russian mass culture, the term "Great War" began to be used periodically to denote the Great Patriotic War, 8 although in interbella this same term was used to refer to the First World War. There are other variants of the name, for example - the Soviet-Nazi war (1941-1945)  .
In 2015, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed the law "About perpetuating the victory over Nazism in the Second World War of 1939-1945"  , while repealing the law "About the perpetuation of victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945"  . In the text of the new law the term "Great Patriotic War" is not used. May 9 declared the Victory Day over Nazism in World War II , and May 8 - Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation  .
Background and causes of war
Providing surprise operation "Barbarossa"
See also Barbarossa cover operation
The successful completion of the cover-up operation subsequently ensured such important parameters of the offensive under the Barbarossa plan as a surprise and a strategic initiative. The Germans won cross-border battles, the Soviet troops of the first strategic echelon in the hardest conditions held back the ramming impact of the tank and motorized divisions of the Wehrmacht. It was necessary to give the chance to deploy the troops of the second strategic echelon and to pull up reserves from the internal districts.
Nazi plans for the USSR
The following documents testify to the military-political and ideological aims of Operation Barbarossa:
The Chief of Staff of the operational directorate of the OKW, after appropriate correction, returned the draft document "Instructions on special problems of directive No. 21 (variant of the Barbarossa plan) submitted to him by the Defense of the Country" department on December 18, 1940, "making a note that the project could be reported The Führer after completion in accordance with the following provision:
The forthcoming war will not only be an armed struggle, but also a struggle between two worldviews. To win this war in conditions when the enemy has a huge territory, it is not enough to break his armed forces, this territory should be divided into several states headed by their own governments with which we could conclude peace treaties.
The creation of such governments requires great political skill and the development of well-thought out general principles.
Any revolution of a large scale brings to life such phenomena that can not be simply cast aside. Socialist ideas in today's Russia can no longer be eradicated. These ideas can serve as an internal political basis for the creation of new states and governments. The Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia, which is the oppressor of the people, must be removed from the scene. The former bourgeois-aristocratic intelligentsia, if it is still, primarily among the emigrants, should also not be allowed to power. It will not be perceived by the Russian people and, in addition, it is hostile to the German nation. This is especially noticeable in the former Baltic states. Moreover, in no case should we allow the replacement of the Bolshevik state by a nationalist Russia, which ultimately (as evidenced by history) will again oppose Germany.
Our task is to create, as soon as possible, with the least expenditure of military efforts, these socialist states dependent on us.
30.3.1941 ... 11.00. A great meeting with the Fuhrer. Almost a 2.5-hour speech ...
The struggle of two ideologies ... A huge danger of communism for the future. We must proceed from the principle of soldier's partnership. The Communist has never been and will never become our comrade. It's about fighting to destroy. If we do not look this way, then, even if we break the enemy, in 30 years, again, there will be a Communist danger. We are not waging a war in order to conserve our opponent.
The future political map of Russia: Northern Russia belongs to Finland, protectorates in the Baltic States, Ukraine, Belarus.
The struggle against Russia: the destruction of the Bolshevik commissars and the communist intelligentsia. New states must be socialist, but without their own intelligentsia. We should not allow a new intelligentsia to form. Only a primitive socialist intelligentsia will suffice here. It is necessary to fight against the poison of demoralization. This is far from a military-legal issue. The commanders of units and subunits are obliged to know the aims of the war. They must lead in the struggle ..., firmly hold the troops in their hands. The commander must give his orders, given the mood of the troops.
The war will be very different from the war in the West. In the East, cruelty is a boon for the future. Commanders must make sacrifices and overcome their hesitations ...
- Diary of the Chief of the General Staff of the Land Forces] F. Halder 
The situation by June 22, 1941
By June 22, 1941, 3 groups of armies were concentrated and deployed at the borders of the USSR (a total of 181 divisions, including 19 tank and 14 motorized, and 18 brigades)  . Air support was provided by 3 air fleets.
In the strip from Goldapa to Memel on the front, 230 km long, there was a group of armies "North" (29 German divisions with the support of the First Air Fleet) under the command of General-Field Marshal V. Leeb. The divisions included in its composition were united in the 16th and 18th armies, as well as the 4th Panzer Group. Directive of January 31, 1941, she was tasked with "destroying the enemy forces operating in the Baltics and seizing the ports on the Baltic Sea, including Leningrad and Kronstadt, to deprive the Russian fleet of its base bases"  . In the Baltic, to support Army Group North and actions against the Baltic Fleet, the German command allocated about 100 ships, including 28 torpedo boats, 10 mine barricks, 5 submarines, patrol vessels and minesweepers. 
To the south, in the strip from Goldap to Wlodawa on the front, 500 km in length, was the Army Group Center (50 German divisions and 2 German brigades supported by the 2nd Air Fleet) under the command of General Field Marshal F. Bock. The divisions and brigades were united in the 9th and 4th field armies, as well as the 2nd and 3rd tank groups. The task of the group was: "Attacking large forces on the flanks, to defeat the enemy troops in Belarus. Then, by concentrating the mobile formations advancing south and north of Minsk, it is possible to quickly go to the Smolensk area and thereby create the prerequisites for the interaction of large tank and motorized forces with Army Group North in order to destroy enemy troops operating in the Baltic and Leningrad regions " 23] .
A group of armies "South" (44 German, 13 Romanian divisions, 9 Romanian and 4 Hungarian brigades, supported by the 4th air fleet and Romanian aviation) were deployed in the zone from Polissya to the Black Sea on the front with the length of 1300 km  under the command of G. Rundstedt. The grouping was divided into 1st Panzer Group, 6th, 11th and 17th German Armies, 3rd and 4th Romanian Armies, as well as the Hungarian Corps. According to the "Barbarossa" plan, the troops of the "South" group were instructed: having tank and motorized formations ahead of them, and causing the main attack on the left wing to Kiev, to destroy Soviet troops in Galicia and western Ukraine, to seize the ferries on the Dnieper in the Kiev region in time and south to ensure further advance East of the Dnieper  . The 1st Panzer Group was ordered, in cooperation with the 6th and 17th Armies, to break through between Rawa-Russkaya and Kovel and through Berdichev, Zhitomir to get to the Dnieper in the Kiev area. Further, moving along the Dnieper in a southeasterly direction, it was to prevent the defending Soviet units from retreating to the Right-Bank Ukraine and to destroy them with a blow from the rear.
In addition to these forces, in the territory of occupied Norway and in Northern Finland - from the Varangerfjord to Suomussalmi - a separate army of the Wehrmacht "Norway" was deployed under the command of General N. Falkenhorst. It was directly subordinated to the High Command of the German Armed Forces (OKW). The "Norway" army was tasked with capturing Murmansk, the main naval base of the Northern Fleet Polar, the Rybachiy Peninsula, and the Kirov Railway north of Belomorsk. Each of its three corps was deployed in an independent direction: the 3rd Finnish Corps in Kesteng and Ukhtinsky, the 36th German Corps in Kandalaksha and the German Mountain Corps "Norway" in Murmansk  .
There were 24 divisions in the reserve of OKH. In total, more than 5.5 million people, 3,712 tanks, 47,260 field guns and mortars, and 4,950 combat aircraft were concentrated to attack the USSR  .
On June 22, 1941, there were 3,289,850 soldiers and officers in the border districts and fleets of the USSR, 59,787 guns and mortars, 12,782 tanks, including 1,475 T-34 and KV tanks, 10,743 aircraft. The three fleets included about 220,000 personnel, 182 main class ships (3 battleships, 7 cruisers, 45 leaders and destroyers and 127 submarines)  . The frontier units (land and sea) of the eight border districts were directly guarding the state border. Together with the operational units and subdivisions of the internal troops, they numbered about 100 thousand people  .
Reflection of a possible attack from the west was assigned to the troops of five border districts: the Leningrad, Baltic special, Western special, Kiev special and Odessa. From the sea, their actions were to be supported by three fleets: Northern, Red Banner Baltic and Black Sea.
The troops of the Baltic military district under the command of General FI Kuznetsov included the 8th and 11th armies, the 27th Army was on the formation west of Pskov. These units kept the defense from the Baltic Sea to the southern border of Lithuania, on the front with a length of 300 km.
The troops of the Western Special Military District under the command of General of the Army DG Pavlov covered the Minsk-Smolensk direction from the southern border of Lithuania to the Pripyat River on the 470 km front. The composition of this district included the 3rd, 4th and 10th Armies. In addition, units and units of the 13th Army were formed in the area of Mogilev, Minsk, Slutsk.
The troops of the Kiev Special Military District under the command of General MP Kirponos as part of the 5th, 6th, 12th and 26th armies and district subordination units occupied positions on the front 860 km from Pripyat to Lipkan.
The troops of the Odessa military district under the command of General Ya. T. Cherevychenko covered the border from Lipkan to the mouth of the Danube with a length of 480 km.
The troops of the Leningrad military district under the command of General MM Popov were to defend the borders of the northwestern regions of the country (the Murmansk region, the Karelian-Finnish SSR and the Karelian Isthmus), as well as the northern coast of the Estonian SSR and the Hanko peninsula. The length of the land border in this area reached 1300 km, and the sea border - 380 km. Here were located - the 7th, 14th, 23rd Armies and the Northern Fleet.
|Category||Germany and its allies||the USSR||USSR (total)|
|Staff||4.3 million people.||3.1 million people.||5.8 million people.|
|Weapons and mortars||42 601||57,041||117 581|
|Tanks and assault guns||4171||13,924||25,784|
It should be noted that, according to modern historians, there was no apparent qualitative superiority of technique in the Wehrmacht  . Thus, all the tanks that were available in Germany were lighter than 23 tons, while the Red Army had medium T-34 and T-28 tanks weighing more than 25 tons, as well as heavy tanks KV and T-35, weighing more than 45 tons.
|Staff||Weapon||Art. Arming.||Tanks||Aircraft||Combat ships||Fur. transport|
|Total||5,434,729||7 983 119||117 581||23 106||24 488||910||528,571|
Forces that fought on the side of Germany
The Wehrmacht and the SS troops have been enlarged by more than 1.8 million people from among the citizens of other states and nationalities. Of these, during the war years, 59 divisions, 23 brigades, several separate regiments, legions and battalions were formed. Many of them carried names on territorial or national origin: Wallonia, Galicia, Bohemia and Moravia, Viking, Denmark, Gembes, Langemark, Nordland, Nederland, Charlemagne "and others.
In the war against the Soviet Union, the armies of Germany's allies-Italy, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Slovakia, and Croatia-participated.
Italy in the summer of 1941 sent an expeditionary force to participate in the war against the USSR, which in July 1942 was transformed into a combined-arms army.
The military units of Slovakia, equivalent to 2.5 divisions (two infantry divisions, one howitzer regiment, one anti-tank artillery regiment, one anti-aircraft artillery regiment, one air regiment and one tank battalion in total, 42.5 thousand ., Military personnel, 246 guns and mortars, 35 tanks and 160 aircraft)  .
Franco Spain in 1941 sent to the war against the USSR one infantry division (called the "blue division") and the squadron "Salvador"  .
Bulgaria did not declare war on the USSR and Bulgarian servicemen did not participate in the war against the USSR (although Bulgaria's participation in the occupation of Greece and Yugoslavia and military actions against the Greek and Yugoslav partisans freed German divisions to be sent to the Eastern Front). In addition, Bulgaria has placed at the disposal of the German military command all the major airfields and ports of Varna and Burgas (which the Germans used to supply troops on the Eastern Front)  .
Croatia in 1941 sent to the aid of Germany three legions, manned by Croatian volunteers - infantry, air and sea. Three more divisions of the Wehrmacht and two divisions of SS troops, staffed by Croats and Bosnian Muslims, took part in the battles against the Red Army during the liberation of Yugoslavia and Hungary.
The Russian Liberation Army (ROA) under the command of General Vlasov AA also acted on the side of Nazi Germany, although it was not part of the Wehrmacht.
On the side of the Third Reich, also South Caucasian and North Caucasian detachments - Battalion Bergmann, the Georgian Legion, the Azerbaijan Legion, the North Caucasian SS squad, and so on.
In the army of Nazi Germany fought the 15th Cossack Cavalry Corps SS General von Pannwitz, and other Cossack units. In order to justify the use of Cossacks in the armed struggle on the side of Germany, a "theory" was developed, according to which the Cossacks were declared descendants of the Ostrogoths  .
On the side of Germany, the Russian corps of General Steiffon, the corps of the Lieutenant-General of the Tsarist Army PN Krasnov, and a number of separate units formed from citizens of the USSR and White emigres also operated. 
Territory of military operations
The Belarusian SSR (occupation), the Karelian-Finnish SSR (occupation), the Moldavian SSR (occupation), the Latvian SSR (occupation), the Lithuanian SSR (occupation), the Ukrainian SSR (occupation), the Estonian SSR (occupation), and a number of other territories Union republics. The regions of the RSFSR : Arkhangelsk (airplanes), Astrakhan (airplanes), Bryansk, Vologda, Voronezh, Gorky (airplanes), Kalinin, Kaluga, Kursk, Leningrad (blockade), Lipetsk, Moscow (battles), Murmansk, Novgorod (battles), Orlovskaya , Pskov, Rostov, Ryazan, Saratov (airplanes), Smolensk, Stalingrad (battles), Tambov (airplanes), Tula, Yaroslavl (airplanes). Edges : Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk (fighting at sea) and Stavropol. And also: the Abkhazian ASSR (GSSR)  , the Kabardino-Balkarian ASSR, the Kazakh SSR (aviaranet to the city of Guryev), the Kalmyk ASSR, the Crimean ASSR, the Mari ASSR (air route)  , the North Ossetian ASSR, the Checheno-Ingush ASSR, the Chuvash Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (aviagnalot).
From the Great Patriotic War, the fighting of Soviet armed forces in the territories of other occupied countries and states of the fascist bloc-Germany, Poland, Finland, Norway, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, as well as Austria, created by Hitler's regime Croatia and Slovakia.
Main periods of the Great Patriotic War
During the Great Patriotic War, historiography considers three main periods  :
The first period (June 22, 1941 - November 1942). Germany's attack on the USSR. The initial period of the war. The collapse of the blitzkrieg. Battle for Moscow. Failures and defeats of the summer of 1942
The second period (November 1942 - December 1943). A radical change in the course of the war. Victory in the Stalingrad and Kursk battles, in the battle for the Dnieper.
The third period (January 1944 - May 9, 1945). Expulsion of the enemy beyond the territory of the USSR. Exemption from the occupation of Europe. The collapse of the fascist bloc. The Berlin operation. The unconditional surrender of Germany.The Soviet-Japanese war is regarded as a logical continuation of the Great Patriotic War.
- The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. In 12 vols T. 1. The main events of the war.
The first period of the war (June 22, 1941 - November 18, 1942)
|Soviet radio report on Germany's attack on the USSR|
Text read by Yu. Levitan
On June 18, 1941, some formations of the border military districts of the USSR were put on alert  ,  . On June 13-15, directives of NGOs and GSh were sent to the western districts ("To increase combat readiness ...") about the beginning of the advancement of units of the first and second echelons to the border, under the guise of "exercises." The rifle units of the first echelon districts according to these directives were to occupy the defense at 5-10 km from the border, the second echelon units, the rifle and mechanized corps, were to occupy the defense 30-40 km from the border  .
Some parts of the western districts, the same mechanized corps of K. K. Rokossovsky in KOVO, were not informed at all of these orders and directives, and entered the war after learning of the attack only on June 22, 1941.
On June 21, at 23:30, the military-political leadership of the state made a decision aimed at partially bringing the five border military districts into combat readiness. The directive prescribed only a part of measures to bring to full combat readiness, which were determined by operational and mobilization plans. The directive, in fact, did not give permission to put in action the cover plan in full, as it was prescribed "not to yield to any provocative actions that could cause major complications." These restrictions caused confusion, followed by requests to Moscow, while before the war began there were already a few minutes.
However, in fact, Directive No. 1 of June 21 really only (and above all) reported the likely date of the German attack - "1. During the period from June 22 to June 23, 1941, a sudden attack by the Germans on the front lines of the Leningrad Military District, Prib. OBO, Zap. OBO, KOVO, OD. OBO ". Also this directive ordered parts to BE in full combat readiness, and not to bring units into full combat readiness. Thus, Directive No. 1 confirms that orders and directives on bringing the units to combat readiness - the directives of NGOs and GSh from June 12-13, and the telegrams of the General Staff about bringing to full combat readiness from June 18, have already left in the part of the western districts. Directive No. 1 says that it does not at all give the command to bring the parts of the western districts into combat readiness. The purpose of this directive is just a message of a sufficiently accurate date and a reminder to the command of the districts "to be in full combat readiness, to meet a possible sudden blow of the Germans or their allies."
The reckoning in time aggravated the existing shortcomings in the army's combat readiness and thereby sharply increased the objectively existing advantages of the aggressor. The time that the troops had, which did not receive orders from their commanders in the districts from June 15-18, was clearly insufficient to bring it to full combat readiness, after receiving Directive No. 1. To alert troops for bringing them to combat readiness, instead of 25-30 minutes, it took an average of 2 hours and 30 minutes. The point is that, instead of the signal "To proceed to the implementation of the 1941 cover plan," the formations and formations received an encrypted directive with restrictions on the introduction of the cover plan. However, the same Bagramyan quite rightly writes that the General Staff could not give a direct order to put in place a "cover plan" in that situation in June 1941. Thus, bringing the parts of the western districts into combat readiness was to be carried out in stages, within a few days, starting from June 13-15, when the directives of NGOs and GSh came to the districts on June 12-13 to start "exercises" for parts of these districts and to nominate They are on the line of defense according to the plans of cover. However, the open and implicit non-fulfillment of the directives of June 12-13 by the command of the western districts (especially in Byelorussia) led to a failure to bring these districts into combat readiness.
In these conditions, even the formations and units of the first echelon of the cover armies, which had a constant combat readiness within the range of 6-9 hours (2-3 hours - on the rise in alarm and collection, 4-6 hours - for the nomination and organization of defense), did not receive this Time. Instead of this deadline, they had no more than 30 minutes, and some connections were not even notified even about the directive No. 1. The delay, and in some cases the disruption of the transfer of the team, were also due to the fact that the enemy managed to disrupt the wire communication with the troops In the border areas. As a result, the headquarters of the districts and armies were not able to quickly transfer their orders  .
Zhukov declares that the command of the Western (Western special, Kiev special, Baltic special and Odessa) border military districts at this time moved to field command posts, which were due to arrive on June 22. GK Zhukov also points out in his Memoirs and Reflections that a few days before the attack, parts of the western districts did receive orders to begin the nomination to the frontiers of defense (under the guise of "exercises") to the border. These orders (Zhukov called them "recommendations") came from Commissar of Defense SK Timoshenko to the commanders of the western districts.
In the north of the Baltic, the implementation of the Barbarossa plan began on the evening of June 21, when German minelayers based in Finnish ports exposed two large minefields in the Gulf of Finland  . These minefields, in the final analysis, were able to lock up the Soviet Baltic Fleet in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland.
Summer and Autumn Campaign 1941
The beginning of the war
June 22, 1941 at 03 hours 06 minutes The Chief of Staff of the Black Sea Fleet, Rear Admiral ID Eliseev ordered to open fire on Nazi planes that invaded far into the airspace of the USSR, which is the history of the first battle order to repel the attackers On us fascists in the Great Patriotic War.  .
At 03 hours 07 minutes Zhukov, Georgiy Konstantinovich received the first message about the beginning of hostilities.  . -> June 22, 1941, Germany's invasion of the USSR began  . At 4:00 am the Reich Foreign Minister Ribbentrop presented the Soviet Ambassador in Berlin with a note to Dekanozov about the declaration of war and three annexes to it: "Report of the German Minister of the Interior, the Reichsfuhrer of the SS and the chief of the German police to the German government on the sabotage work of the USSR directed against Germany and the National Socialism "," Report of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the propaganda and political agitation of the Soviet government "," Report of the Supreme Command of the German Army to the German Government on the concentration Soviet troops against Germany. " Early in the morning on June 22, 1941, after the artillery and air training, German troops crossed the border of the USSR. Even after that, at 5:30 am the German ambassador to the USSR, V. Shulenburg, came to the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, VM Molotov, and made a statement whose content was that the Soviet government was conducting a subversive policy in Germany and in its occupied territories Countries, pursued a foreign policy directed against Germany, and "concentrated all its troops on the German border in full combat readiness". The statement concluded with the following words: "The Führer therefore ordered the German armed forces to confront this threat with all the means at their disposal"  . Along with the note, he presented a set of documents identical to those that Ribbentrop gave to Dekanozov (according to Molotov himself Schulenburg appeared earlier, about half-past three, but not later than 3:00 AM). On the same day Italy and Romania declared war on the USSR; Slovakia - on June, 23rd.
On the same day, Romanian and German troops crossed the Prut, and also tried to cross the Danube, but the Soviet troops did not allow them to do so and even captured bridgeheads on Romanian territory. However, in July-September 1941, Romanian troops, with the support of German troops, occupied all of Bessarabia, Bukovina and the interfluve of the Dniester and the Southern Bug (for more details see: Border Battles in Moldova, Romania in World War II).
On June 22 at 12 noon Molotov spoke on the radio with an official address to the citizens of the USSR, reporting on Germany's attack on the USSR and announcing the beginning of the national war.
In accordance with the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of June 22, 1941, from June 23, mobilization of the military liable for 14 ages (1905-1918) was announced in 14 military districts out of 17. In the other three districts - Transbaikal, Central Asia and Far East - Announced a month later by a special government decision in a covert way as "large training fees"  .
On June 23, the Chief Command was established (since August 8, the Supreme High Command Headquarters). On June 30, the State Defense Committee (GKO) was established. Since June, the people's militia began to form. On August 8, Stalin became Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
Finland did not allow the Germans to strike directly from their territory, and the German units in Petsamo and Salla were forced to refrain from crossing the border. Occasional shootings took place between Soviet and Finnish border guards, but in general, the situation on the Soviet-Finnish border was calm. However, starting from June 22, the German Luftwaffe bombers began using Finnish airfields as a refueling base before returning to Germany. June 23 Molotov summoned the Finnish ambassador. Molotov demanded a clear definition of Finland's position vis-à-vis the USSR, but the Finnish ambassador refrained from commenting on Finland's actions. On 24 June, the Commander-in-Chief of the German Ground Forces sent instructions to the representative of the German command at the headquarters of the Finnish army, which said that Finland should prepare for the start of the operation east of Lake Ladoga.  Early on the morning of June 25, the Soviet command decided to inflict a massive air strike on 18 airfields in Finland using about 460 aircraft. On June 25, in response to the large-scale air raids of the USSR on the cities of southern and central Finland, including Helsinki and Turku, as well as the fire of Soviet infantry and artillery on the state border, Finland declared that it was again at war with the USSR  . During July-August 1941, the Finnish army in a number of operations occupied all the territories that had retired to the USSR following the results of the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940.
Hungary did not immediately take part in the attack on the USSR, and Hitler did not require immediate assistance from Hungary. However, the Hungarian ruling circles urged Hungary to join the war in order to prevent Hitler from settling a territorial dispute over Transylvania in favor of Romania. On June 26, 1941, the fact of the bombing of Kosice by the Soviet Air Force allegedly took place, but it is believed that this was a German provocation that gave Hungary a casus belli (formal excuse) for entering the war.  Hungary declared war on the USSR on June 27, 1941. July 1, 1941 at the direction of Germany, the Hungarian Carpathian group of troops attacked the Soviet 12th Army. Attached to the 17th German Army, the Carpathian group advanced far into the southern part of the USSR. In the autumn of 1941, the so-called Blue Division of Spanish volunteers also began military operations on the side of Germany.
On August 10, the State Defense Committee issued a resolution on the mobilization of people liable for service in the years 1890-1904 and conscripts born in 1922-1923 on the territory of the Kirovograd, Mykolayiv, Dnepropetrovsk oblasts and districts west of Lyudinovo-Bryansk-Sevsk, Orel Region  . On August 15 this mobilization was extended to the Crimean ASSR  , on August 20 - to the Zaporizhzhya Oblast  , on September 8 - to a number of districts of the Oryol and Kursk Regions  , on October 16 - to Moscow and the Moscow Region  . In general, by the end of 1941, more than 14 million people were mobilized  .
Meanwhile, German troops seized a strategic initiative and domination in the air and in front-line battles defeated Soviet troops.
The main events of the summer-autumn campaign of 1941
Frontier battles in the initial period
In the initial period of the war in the border areas of the USSR in the territories of Lithuania, southern Latvia, Belorussia and Western Ukraine on June 22-29, 1941 (the time for the end of frontier battles is rather conditional), the covert actions of the cover and frontier troops unfolded  . They became part of three simultaneous strategic defensive operations (from June 22 to July 9, 1941), within which a frontier defensive battle was conducted  :
- Baltic strategic defensive operation (June 22 - July 9, 1941); In its framework, a border battle was fought in Lithuania and Latvia and a counterattack in the Šiauliai direction.
- Belarusian strategic defensive operation (June 22 - July 9, 1941). In the framework of this operation, a frontier defensive battle and counterstrikes were conducted on the Borisov and Lepel directions on 06-09.07.1941 by the 13th and 20th armies, 5th and 7th microns, the Front Air Force.
- Lviv-Chernivtsi strategic defensive operation (June 22 - July 6, 1941); Within its framework were carried out: a frontier defensive battle , Lvov-Lutsk and Stanislavsky-Proskurov front defensive operations.
Together with the parts of the spacecraft, the first blow of the enemy was assumed by the personnel of the border units and subunits stationed on the western border, although it was not intended for this purpose. In the border troops of the north-western and western directions there were 8 border districts: 48 border detachments, 10 separate frontier guards, 7 detachments of frontier courts, and other parts of a total number of 87459 people  :
The border guards knew that they did not have enough forces to detain the enemy. However, following the military duty and the Oath, they defended the frontiers of the Fatherland to the last opportunity, to the last man. And thus, in June-July 1941, they brought the Victory closer.
By the order of the NKVD of the USSR of September 25, 1941, "due to the large losses in the battles on the state border line and in the rearguard battles, 58 border units were disbanded because of the lack of personnel"  .
As noted in the monograph of the Institute of Military History (IIE) of the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation  :
Fierce fighting, unfolded on July 9-10 at the approaches to Luga, Smolensk, Kiev and Chisinau, the initial period of the war ended. Since that time, new tasks arose for the troops of both sides. The second strategic echelon of the Soviet Armed Forces joined the battle. New strategic defensive operations began.
- "History of the Military Strategy of Russia", ed. Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences VA Zolotarev
The Strategic Defense Operation in the Arctic and Karelia (June 29-October 10, 1941) became more prolonged. Within the framework of this operation, defensive operations were conducted on the Murmansk, Kandalaksha and Kesteng directions, the Vyborg-Keksgolm front defensive operation, defensive operations on the Ukhta, Rugozersky, Petrozavodsk and Olonets directions.
Defensive operations of groups of fronts
From mid-July 1941, the Stavka began to practice the organization of operations of groups of fronts , involving two or three front-line associations, long-range aviation forces and forces, air defense forces of the country, and in the coastal areas - fleets and flotillas. In this way, it was possible to create groups capable of holding the strategic front for a fairly long time  .
Operations started in July 1941.
The defensive operation of a group of fronts was, as a rule, carried out in one of the strategic directions and represented a combination of front-line and army operations, battles, strikes and military operations (in the first period of the war mostly defensive), conducted in accordance with the common plan and under the leadership of the Supreme High Command  :
- Kiev strategic defensive operation (July 7 - September 26, 1941)
- Leningrad strategic defensive operation (July 10 - September 30, 1941) Attended: the Northern Front, the North-Western Front, the Leningrad Front, the Baltic Fleet.
- Smolensk battle (July 10 - September 10, 1941) Forces of four fronts are involved: the Western Front, the Central Front, the Bryansk Front, the Reserve Front.
Operations started in September 1941.
- Donbass-Rostov strategic defensive operation (September 29 - November 16, 1941)
- Moscow strategic defensive operation (September 30 - December 5, 1941)
- Belostok-Minsk battle (June 22 - July 8, 1941)
- The Battle for Dubno-Lutsk-Brody (June 24-June 30, 1941)
- Frontier battles in Moldova
- The Lepel counterblow (July 6-July 10, 1941)
- Defense of Odessa (August 5 - October 16, 1941)
- The beginning of the defense of Sevastopol (October 4, 1941 - July 4, 1942)
- The encirclement of the 18th Army of the Southern Front (October 5-10, 1941)
- Tula defensive operation (October 24 - December 5, 1941)
- The battles for Rostov-on-Don (November 21-27, 1941)
Results of the summer-autumn campaign of 1941
By December 1, 1941, German troops had seized Lithuania, Latvia, Byelorussia, Moldavia, Estonia, a significant part of the RSFSR, Ukraine, advanced in depth to 850-1,200 km, losing 740,000 people (of which 230,000 were dead)  .
The USSR lost the most important raw and industrial centers: Donbass, Krivoy Rog iron ore basin. They left Minsk, Kiev, Kharkov, Smolensk, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk. It turned out to be a blockade of Leningrad. The most important sources of food in the Ukraine and southern Russia fell into the hands of the enemy or were cut off from the center. In the occupied territories were millions of Soviet citizens. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed or were driven to slavery in Germany.
The failure of the Barbarossa plan
The German army, however, was stopped near Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov-on-Don; The strategic goals outlined in the Barbarossa plan could not be achieved.
M. Yu. Myagkov points to the conclusion of the German historian K. Reinhardt that "Hitler's strategy for the conquest of world domination was defeated near Moscow" . Reinhardt also notes that in December 1941-January 1942, at the headquarters of the OKW, "many generals have already come to the conclusion that the war has been lost by Germany"  . In the collection Countries of the Axis and the Allies (England, 1994), K. Reinhardt refines his previous conclusions:
"... Hitler's plans and prospects for the successful conclusion of the war by Germany collapsed, apparently in October 1941 and, of course, with the beginning of the Russian counter-offensive in the battle for Moscow in December 1941."
- The Axis and Allies / Edited by J.Erickson and D.Dilks. Edinburgh, 1994. P.207
The crisis of the "blitzkrieg", which the German command decides in the new operation "Typhoon", was clearly revealed.
The Winter Campaign of 1941-1942
On November 16, the Germans began the second phase of the offensive against Moscow, planning to encircle it from the north-west and south-west. In the Dmitrov direction they reached the Moscow-Volga canal and crossed to its eastern coast near Yakhroma, captured the Klin in Khimki, crossed the Istra Reservoir, occupied Solnechnogorsk and Krasnaya Polyana, and Istra was taken in Krasnogorsk. In the south-west Guderian approached Kashira. However, as a result of the fierce resistance of the armies of the SF, the Germans were stopped in all directions at the end of November and beginning of December. The attempt to take Moscow failed.
During the winter campaign of 1941-1942, a counteroffensive was conducted near Moscow. The threat to Moscow was removed. Soviet troops threw the enemy in the western direction for 80-250 km, completed the liberation of the Moscow and Tula oblasts, liberated many areas of the Kalinin and Smolensk regions.
On the southern front, Soviet troops defended a strategically important Crimea.
The plans of the Soviet command
January 5, 1942 an expanded meeting was held at the Headquarters of the Supreme Command to discuss strategic plans for the near future. The main report was made by the chief of the General Staff, Marshal BM Shaposhnikov. He outlined not only the plan for further rejection of the enemy from Moscow, but also plans for a large-scale strategic offensive on other fronts: the breakthrough of the siege of Leningrad and the defeat of the enemy in the Ukraine and the Crimea. GK Zhukov spoke against the plan for a strategic offensive. He pointed out that, because of a lack of tanks and artillery, it is not possible to break through the German defenses, and that the proposed strategy will lead only to useless losses in manpower. Zhukov was supported by the head of the State Planning Committee of the USSR, NA Voznesensky, who pointed out that it was impossible to provide the proposed plan with a sufficient number of equipment and weapons. In support of the plan, LP Beria and GM Malenkov spoke. Summarizing the discussion, JV Stalin approved the plan, saying: "We must quickly break up the Germans so that they can not advance when the spring comes"  .
Winter campaign operations in 1942
In accordance with the adopted plan, at the beginning of 1942 offensive operations were undertaken: the Rzhev-Vyazma strategic offensive operation, the Kerch-Feodosiya landing operation and others. All these offensive attacks were repelled by the enemy with heavy losses for the Soviet troops.
With impunity, the case against the perpetrators of large losses. I learned from practice that if army commanders report: "The order is executed, slowly moving forward in small groups", this means that the neighbor is standing still and wants to deceive the unarmed neighbor, and submits to his subordinates: "You, so, That you are coming. " The enemy is piling first on one, the most active, and the most active are new, unexperienced units ... Fraud and a wrong report, the younger should be more afraid than non-compliance with the order. For failure to comply with the order, they frighten me around with shooting, and I postpone the wrong report. To say that I can not advance, it is impossible, and not to attack and report: "We carry out the order, slowly creep forward in small groups", and nobody will shoot ...
... The same fraud observed in the system of formation, acquisition and replenishment. Parts are sent to the front absolutely unprepared. As if a meat grinder has been made on purpose, which should grind our people and our good expensive equipment. Why is this done? I think that in order to rub points to the Government and to deceive Great Stalin: "We are such good fellows, so many brigades have been organized, there are so many divisions, etc.", but in fact all the joints and we went like this: formed in Kazalinsk, just finished the formation, immediately put in echelons, weapons were given in Lublin, only handed out weapons, set out on the road. Weapons were studied at stops in wagons. The replenishment was received by 1000 people who are completely unprepared, do not know the weapons and do not know how to fight. I have to teach at the front line. 
January 18, 1942 Barvenkovo-Lozovskaya operation began. Two weeks of bitter fighting continued, as a result of which Soviet troops were able to break through the German defense at the front with a length of 100 km, advance in the western and south-western directions by 90-100 km and seize a bridgehead on the right bank of the Northern Donets.
Summer - Autumn of 1942
On the basis of incorrect data on the losses of the Wehrmachtduring the winter offensive of the Red Army, the Supreme Command of the USSR in the summer-autumn campaign of 1942 the troops faced an impossible task: to completely defeat the enemy and liberate the entire territory of the country.
The main military events took place in the southwestern direction: the defeat of the Crimean front, the catastrophe in the Kharkov operation (May 12-25), the Voronezh-Voroshilovgrad strategic defensive operation (June 28-July 24), the Stalingrad strategic defensive operation (July 17-November 18) , The North Caucasus strategic defensive operation (July 25 - December 31). The enemy advanced 500-650 km, went to the Volga, seized some of the passes of the Main Caucasian Range.
A number of major operations took place in the central direction: the Rzhev-Sychevsky operation (July 30-August 23), which merged with the counterattack of the Western Front forces in the Sukhinichi area, Kozelsk (August 22-29), totaling 228,232 casualties  ; As well as in the northwestern direction: the Luban offensive operation (January 7 - April 30), merged with the operation to withdraw from the encirclement of the 2nd Shock Army (May 13-July 10), which was surrounded by the first operation; The total loss is 403,118 people  .
For the German army, the situation also began to take a dangerous turn: although its losses continued to be much lower than the Soviet one, the weaker German military economy did not allow replacing lost planes and tanks with the same speed as the opposite side did, and extremely inefficient use of human resources in the army Did not allow the expansion of the divisions operating in the East to the right extent, which led to the transfer of a number of divisions to a six-battalion state (from nine-battalion); The personnel of the combat companies in the Stalingrad sector reduced to 27 people (out of 180 in the staff). Moreover, as a result of operations in the South of Russia, the already very long eastern front of the Germans has considerably extended, in fact the German units were no longer sufficient to create the necessary defensive densities. Significant sections of the front took the troops of Germany's allies - the Romanian 3rd and emerging 4th Army, the 8th Italian and the 2nd Hungarian armies. It was these armies that proved to be the Achilles' heel of the Wehrmacht in the ensuing autumn-winter campaign. To fill the total loss of 1.168 million, incurred in the previous stage of military operations against the USSR, Hitler attracted fresh forces of German allies. By the spring of 1942 there were at least 52 Allied divisions in the southern direction of the theater of operations in the USSR, including 10 Hungarian, 6 Italian, 5 Romanian. 
July 3, 1941 Stalin addressed the people with the slogan "Everything for the front! Everything for victory! "; By the summer of 1942 (less than 1 year), the transfer of the Soviet economy to military races was completed.
With the outbreak of the war in the USSR, mass evacuation of the population, productive forces, institutions and material resources began. A significant number of enterprises were evacuated to the eastern regions of the country (only in the second half of 1941 - about 2600), 2.3 million head of cattle were exported. In the first half of 1942, 10 thousand aircraft, 11 thousand tanks, 54 thousand guns were produced. In the second half of the year their output increased more than 1.5 times. In 1942, the USSR produced small arms of all types (without revolvers and pistols) - 5.91 million units, guns and mortars of all types and calibers (without aviation, marine and tank / SAU guns) - 287.0 thousand units, tanks and ACS of all types - 24.5 thousand units, aircraft of all types - 25.4 thousand units, including combat ones - 21.7 thousand units  . A significant amount of military equipment was received and lend-lease.
As a result of agreements between the USSR, the United Kingdom and the United States, in 1941-1942 the nucleus of the anti-Hitler coalition was formed.
Results of the first period of the war
M.Yu. Myagkov notes the new work of the Military-Historical Research Institute in Potsdam "World War II", where he singles out the chapter of B. Wegner  :
It would be a mistake to unequivocally interpret the defeat at Stalingrad as "a fundamental turning point in the war" ... the defeat at Stalingrad, if to be precise, meant the final stage of the process of narrowing the possibilities for choosing military operations capable of leading [Germany] to victory. The main stages of this process were the Battle of Smolensk in July 1941 and, as a consequence, the suspension of the offensive against Moscow, its failure in December, rightfully described as the "economic Stalingrad", the evacuation of most of Soviet industry to the eastern regions of the country, and Hitler's decision to separate the forces involved in the operation "Blau" in July 1942. The tragedy near Stalingrad ended with a "radical change" in the process.
- Wegner V. Second Hitler's campaign against the Soviet Union.
Hitler viewed his attack on the USSR as a "Crusade", which should be carried out by terrorist methods. Already on May 13, 1941, he released the servicemen from any responsibility for their actions when carrying out the Barbarossa plan:
No action of employees of the Wehrmacht or of the persons acting with them, in case civilians engage in hostile acts towards them, are not subject to cessation and can not be considered as misdemeanors or war crimes ...
On this occasion Guderian remarked:
Hitler contrived to unite all Russians under the Stalinist banner 
During the war, the territories of the Byelorussian, Ukrainian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian SSR, 13 regions of the RSFSR were subjected to German occupation.
The Moldavian SSR and some areas of the south of the Ukrainian SSR (Transnistria) were ruled by Romania, part of the Karelian-Finnish SSR was occupied by Finnish troops.
The war of the Third Reich against the Soviet Union was from the very beginning aimed at capturing the territory right up to the Urals, exploiting the natural resources of the USSR and long-term subordination of Russia to German domination. Before the direct threat of systematic physical destruction were not only the Jews, but also the Slavs who inhabited captured Germany in 1941-1944. Soviet territories. Only recently the subject of the studies of historians of the FRG was "another holocaust" directed against the Slavic population of the USSR, which, along with the Jews, was proclaimed "the lowest race" and was also subject to destruction.
- Wolfram Werth 
The provinces began to be called provinces, counties (since January 1943 - districts) and volosts were established, and the population was registered. Along with the German military and administrative authorities (military commandant's offices, district and district administrations, agricultural administrations, the Gestapo, etc.), there were institutions of local self-government with the police. At the head of cities, counties were appointed burgomasters, volost departments were headed by rural marshals, in the villages were appointed elders. World criminal courts acted to analyze criminal and civil cases that did not affect the interests of the German army. The activities of local institutions were aimed at fulfilling the orders and orders of the German command, implementing Hitler's policy and plans for the occupied population.
All the able-bodied population was obliged to work at the enterprises opened by the Germans, on the construction of fortifications for the German army, on the repair of highways and railways, their clearing from snow and blockages, in agriculture, etc. In accordance with the "new order of land use," the collective farms were Community farms were eliminated and formed, instead of sovkhozes, "state farms" were formed-state farms of German power. The population was instructed to fulfill implicitly the predatory norms of delivering meat, milk, grain, fodder, etc. for the German army, established by the Germans. German soldiers robbed and destroyed state and public property, expelled civilians from their homes. People were forced to live in unsuitable premises, dugouts, they took away warm clothes, food, cattle.
The Germans organized political schools - a special institution for propaganda and agitation. Public lectures on political topics were carried out without fail at enterprises and organizations of the city and in rural areas. Lectures and reports were read through local radio broadcasting. Also, D. Malyavin reports on propaganda calendars  .
Compulsory schooling was introduced using Soviet textbooks, from which everything that did not correspond to the Nazi ideology was removed. Parents who did not send their children to schools were forced to impose fines. Teachers interviewed the Gestapo and organized two-week political courses. Since April 1943, history teaching has been banned and so-called "lessons of current events" were introduced, for which it was required to use German newspapers and special German political pamphlets. In the schools of the churches, children's groups were organized to teach the Law of God. At the same time, the invaders destroyed a huge number of books in libraries.
For most places that were subjected to occupation, this period lasted two to three years. The invaders introduced here a strict labor service for Soviet citizens aged 18 to 45 (for Jews aged 18 to 60  ). At the same time, the working day lasted 14-16 hours a day even in harmful industries. For refusal and evasion from work, failure to comply with orders, the slightest disobedience, resistance to robbery and violence, assistance to partisans, membership in the Communist Party and the Komsomol, belonging to a Jewish or Gypsy nationality, and simply without a cause, executions, executions, beatings and tortures with a deadly Outcome. Fines, imprisonment in concentration camps, requisition of cattle, etc. were used. Thus, in Belorussia, during the entire war, every fourth inhabitant perished  (for the sake of justice, it should be added that this number includes not only peaceful Residents, but also partisans who died with weapons in their hands, as well as the residents of pre-war Belarus called to the front, a significant part of the "dead" was made up by members of anti-Soviet armed formations evacuated with retreating Germans to the West, employees of the occupation administration, police and other persons , Who preferred not to test fate and escape from the advancing Soviet troops).
In the occupied territories, death camps were set up, where, according to general estimates, about 5 million people died  . More than 7.4 million people died in the occupied territory. Civilian population  .
Great damage to the Soviet population, who was under occupation, caused the forcible hijacking of the most able-bodied part of it for forced labor in Germany and the occupied industrialized countries. Soviet slaves were called there "Ostarbeiters" (Eastern workers).
Out of the total number of Soviet citizens who were forcibly exported to Germany (5,269,513 people), 2,654,100 people were repatriated after the end of the war. They did not return for various reasons and became emigrants - 451,100 people. The remaining 2 164 313 people. Died or died in captivity  .
The period of radical fracture
The Winter Campaign of 1942-1943
On November 19, 1942, the counteroffensive of Soviet troops began, on November 23 parts of the Stalingrad and Southwestern fronts joined the city of Kalach-na-Donu and surrounded 22 enemy divisions. During the operation "Maly Saturn" that started on December 16, a group of armies "Don" under the command of Manstein suffered a serious defeat. Although the offensive operations on the central section of the Soviet-German front (Operation Mars) failed, but success in the south provided the success of the winter campaign of the Soviet troops as a whole - one German and four German allied forces were destroyed.
Other important events of the winter campaign were the North Caucasian offensive operation (in fact, the pursuit of forces that had withdrawn from the Caucasus to avoid German encirclement) and the breakthrough of the Leningrad blockade (January 18, 1943). The Red Army advanced to the West in some directions for 600-700 km, defeated five enemy armies.
On February 19, 1943, the troops of Army Group "South" under the command of Manstein began on the southern direction [ where? ] Counter-offensive, which allowed temporarily to wrest the initiative from the hands of the Soviet troops and to throw them to the east (in separate directions for 150-200 km). A relatively small number of Soviet units were surrounded (on the Voronezh Front, due to errors committed by the front commander F. I. Golikov, displaced after the battle). However, the measures taken by the Soviet command already at the end of March made it possible to stop the advance of German troops and stabilize the front.
In the winter of 1943, the German 9th Army of V. Model left the Rzhev-Vyazma ridge (see: Operation Buffel). Soviet troops Kalinin (AM Purkaev) and Western (VD Sokolovsky) fronts began to pursue the enemy. As a result, Soviet troops pushed the front line away from Moscow for another 130-160 km. Soon the headquarters of the German 9th Army led the troops on the northern facade of the Kursk salient.
Summer-autumn campaign of 1943
The decisive events of the summer-autumn campaign of 1943 were the Battle of Kursk and the battle for the Dnieper. The Red Army advanced 500-1300 km, and although its losses were greater than the enemy's losses (in 1943 the losses of the Soviet armies killed peaked in the entire war), the German side could not, due to a less efficient military industry and less effective system of use Human resources for military purposes  , replenish their even smaller losses with the speed with which the USSR could do it. This provided the Red Army as a whole with a stable dynamics of progress to the West during the third and fourth quarters of 1943.
November 28 - December 1, the Tehran Conference of J. Stalin, W. Churchill and F. Roosevelt took place. The main issue of the conference was the opening of a second front.
Results of the period of radical change in the war
Completion of the period of strategic defensive operations
Authors of the 12-volume work "The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945" note  :
During the war, 14 strategic defensive operations were conducted ...
- The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. In the 12 vols. Tom. 11. p. 730
In 1943, the Kursk strategic defensive operation was successfully carried out, which completed the period of strategic defensive operations in the war.
The third period of the war
The third period of the war was characterized by a significant quantitative growth of the German Armed Forces, especially in technical terms. For example, the number of tanks and automatic control systems in the Wehrmacht by January 1, 1945 amounted to 12,990 units  , while by January 1, 1944 - 9,149  , and by January 1, 1943 - only 7927 units  . This was the result of the activities of Speer, Milch and others in the framework of the program for the military mobilization of industry in Germany, which began in January 1942, but which began to give serious results only in 1943-1944.
However, the quantitative growth, due to the huge losses on the Eastern Front and the shortage of fuel for training tankmen and pilots, was accompanied by a decline in the quality level of the German Armed Forces. Therefore, the strategic initiative remained for the USSR and its allies, and Germany's losses increased significantly (it is believed that the increase in the technical equipment of the Wehrmacht was the reason for the increase in losses-more equipment that could be lost).
The Winter-Spring Campaign of 1944
In the winter campaign of 1943-1944, the Red Army launched a grandiose offensive on the right bank of Ukraine (December 24, 1943 - April 17, 1944). This offensive included several front-line operations, such as the Zhitomir-Berdichevskaya, Kirovograd, Korsun-Shevchenkovskaya, Lutsk-Rivne, Nikopol-Krivoy Rog, Proskurovsko-Chernivtsi, Uman-Botoshanskoye, Bereznegovato-Snigirevskaya and Odessa.
As a result of the four-month offensive, a group of armies "South" (commanded by General-Field Marshal E. Manstein) and Army Group "A" (commanded by General-Field Marshal E. Kleist) were defeated. Soviet troops liberated the Right-Bank Ukraine, the western regions, reached the state border in the south of the USSR, in the foothills of the Carpathians (during the Proskurovsko-Chernivtsi operation), and on March 28, crossing the Prut River, entered Romania. Also, the offensive on the right-bank Ukraine is the Poleskoy operation of the 2nd Byelorussian Front, which operated north of the troops of the First Ukrainian Front.
The troops of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Ukrainian fronts, the 2nd Byelorussian Front, the ships of the Black Sea Fleet and the Azov military flotilla, and a large number of partisans in the occupied territories took part in the offensive. As a result of the offensive, the front was moved from the initial positions at the end of December 1943 to a depth of 250-450 km. The human losses of the Soviet troops are estimated at 1.1 million people, of which the irrevocable ones are slightly more than 270,000  .
Simultaneously with the liberation of Right-bank Ukraine, the Leningrad-Novgorod operation began (January 14 - March 1, 1944). Within the framework of this operation, Krasnoselsko-Ropshinskaya, Novgorod-Luga, Kingisepp-Gdovskaya and Starorussko-Novorzhevskaya offensive operations were conducted. One of the main goals was the lifting of the blockade of Leningrad.
As a result of the offensive, the Soviet troops defeated Army Group North under the command of General-Field Marshal G. Kühler. Also, almost 900-day blockade of Leningrad was lifted, almost the entire territory of the Leningrad and Novgorod regions was liberated, most of the Kalinin region, Soviet troops entered Estonia. This offensive by the Soviet troops deprived the German command of the possibility of transferring the forces of Army Group North to the Right-Bank Ukraine, where the Soviet troops inflicted the main blow in the winter of 1944.
The operation involved troops of the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts, part of the forces of the Second Baltic Front, the Baltic Fleet, long-range aviation and partisans. As a result of the Leningrad-Novgorod operation, the troops advanced 220-280 km. Losses of the Soviet troops - more than 300 thousand people, of which irretrievable - more than 75 thousand 
April - May was marked by the Crimean offensive operation (April 8 - May 12). During it two front operations were carried out: the Perekop-Sevastopol and Kerch-Sevastopol; The goal of the operation is the liberation of the Crimea. Soviet troops liberated the Crimea and defeated the 17th field army of the Germans. The Black Sea Fleet regained its main base, Sevastopol, which significantly improved the conditions for basing and conducting combat operations both for the fleet itself and for the Azov military flotilla (on the basis of which the Danube military flotilla was formed). The threat to the rear of the fronts liberating the Right-Bank Ukraine was eliminated.
In the liberation of Crimea, the troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front, the Separate Sea Army under the command of AI Eremenko, the Black Sea Fleet, the Azov Flotilla (later renamed the Danube Flotilla) participated. Losses of the Soviet troops amounted to just under 85 thousand people, of which irretrievable - more than 17 thousand. Soviet troops liberated the Crimea for a month with a small, while the Germans took almost 10 months just to seize Sevastopol.
Summer-autumn campaign of 1944
In June 1944, the Allies opened a second front, which significantly worsened Germany's military situation. In the summer-autumn campaign, the Red Army carried out a number of major operations, including the Belorussian, Lvov-Sandomierz, Yassko-Chisinau, and the Baltic; Completed the liberation of Byelorussia, Ukraine, the Baltic states (except for some regions of Latvia) and partly Czechoslovakia; Liberated the northern Arctic and northern regions of Norway. Were forced to surrender and join the war against Germany, Romania and Bulgaria (Bulgaria was at war with Britain and the US, but not with the USSR, the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria on September 5 and occupied it, the Bulgarian resistance troops did not render).
In summer, Soviet troops entered the territory of Poland. Even before that, in the territory of Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia, as well as Lithuania, Soviet troops met with the formations of the Polish guerrilla army krai (AK), which was subordinate to the Polish government in exile. Before it, the task was set, as the Germans retreated, to seize the liberated areas in Western Belorussia, Western Ukraine and Lithuania, and in Poland itself, so that the incoming Soviet troops would already find there a formed apparatus of power supported by armed detachments subordinate to the emigre government.
Soviet troops first carried out joint operations with the AK against the Germans, and then the officers of the AK were arrested, and the soldiers disarmed and mobilized in the pro-Soviet Polish Army General Beurling. On the liberated lands, that is, directly in the rear of the Red Army, attempts were continuing to disarm the AK detachments that went underground. This happened in July and in the territory of Poland itself. Already on August 23, the first stage of interned AK fighters was sent from Lublin to the camp near Ryazan. Before they were sent, they were kept in the former Nazi concentration camp Maydanek  . On July 21, Polish Communists and their allies established a Polish Committee for National Liberation in Poland, the provisional pro-Soviet government of Poland, despite the fact that the so-called Polish government in exile considered itself to be the legitimate government of Poland at the time.
On August 1, when the advanced forces of the Red Army approached the capital of Poland, Warsaw, the Krayova Army raised an uprising in the city. The rebels fought for two months with the superior forces of the German troops, but on October 2 they were forced to capitulate. The First Byelorussian Front did not render significant assistance to the insurgents, having overcome up to 600 kilometers in the Byelorussian operation, he met with stubborn resistance from Warsaw and moved to defense  .
On August 30, the Slovak national uprising began against the pro-German regime of the Slovak Republic, headed by Josef Tissot. To help the rebels, the Soviet troops launched the Carpatho-Dukel operation on September 8. But in early November, German troops suppressed the insurrection even before the Soviet troops could help the rebels.
In October, Soviet troops successfully conducted the Debrecen operation and began the Budapest operation with the aim of destroying the German troops in Hungary and withdrawing it from the war. However, the German troops in Budapest capitulated only on February 13, 1945. On December 28, the Provisional Government of Hungary was established, which on January 20 concluded a truce with the USSR.
On October 25, the State Defense Committee announced the conscription of conscripts in 1927 for military service. Called 1,156,727 people - the last military call.
The Winter-Spring Campaign of 1945
The military front
The offensive actions of the Soviet troops on the western axis were resumed only in January 1945. On January 13, the East Prussian operation began. In the Malawi direction, the aim was to defeat the enemy's Malawian grouping and to cut off the Army Group Center, defended in East Prussia, from the rest of the forces of the German armies. As a result of the fighting, Soviet troops occupied part of East Prussia, liberated the territory of Northern Poland and, blocking the East Prussian grouping of the enemy from the West and the Southwest, created favorable conditions for its subsequent defeat (see: Mlavsko-Elbing operation).
On the Kaliningrad direction, an offensive operation was launched against the Tilsit-Instera group of German troops. As a result, the troops of the 3rd Belorussian Front advanced to a depth of 130 km and defeated the main forces of the Germans, creating conditions for the completion of the joint operation with the 2nd Byelorussian Front of the East Prussian operation (see: Insterburg-Koenigsberg operation).
On the other side of Poland, on 12 January, the Wisło-Oder operation began, during which, by February 3, the Polish territory west of the Vistula was cleared from the German troops and a bridgehead was seized on the right bank of the Oder, which was subsequently used in the offensive against Berlin. In southern Poland and Czechoslovakia, the forces of the 4th Ukrainian Front overcame most of the Western Carpathians, and by February 18 they had reached the upper Vistula area, thus facilitating the advance of the First Ukrainian Front in Silesia.
After repulsing a fierce offensive in the area of Lake Balaton, the Vienna offensive operation on mastering the city of Vienna begins on March 16. On the way to the capital of the Austrian part of the Third Reich, the 6th Panzer Army of the SS was defeated. In early April, in the territory of Czechoslovakia, Soviet troops with fierce fighting are moving farther west. April 7, approaching the suburbs of Vienna, where they meet the stubborn resistance of the Germans. Begin heavy fights for Vienna, which was taken on April 13.
From February 10 to April 4, the East Pomeranian operation (northeast of Berlin) was successfully conducted, in which the troops of the 1st Byelorussian Front participated.
At the same time in East Prussia, fighting for Koenigsberg begins (see Königsberg operation). At a slow pace, Soviet troops win a kilometer per kilometer, street fighting begins. As a result of the Koenigsberg operation, the main forces of the East Prussian group of Germans were routed. In the north, part of the retreating Army Group "North", blocked in the Kurland Kettle, continued its resistance until Germany's surrender.
In the Polish direction by March 1945 the troops of the 1st Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian fronts reached the boundary of the Oder and Neisse rivers. By the shortest distance from the Kiustra bridgehead to Berlin, there remained 60 km. The Anglo-American troops completed the liquidation of the Ruhr grouping of German troops and by the middle of April advanced units came to the Elbe. The loss of the most important raw materials regions led to a decline in Germany's industrial production. The difficulties with replenishing the human losses incurred in the winter of 1944-1945 have increased. Nevertheless, the armed forces of Germany still represented an impressive force. According to information from the Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Red Army, by mid-April they included 223 divisions and brigades.
April 16, 1945, the Berlin offensive operation of the Soviet troops began. On April 25, 1945, Soviet troops on the Elbe River first met with American troops advancing from the West. May 2, 1945 the garrison of Berlin capitulated.
After the capture of Berlin and the surrender of Germany, Soviet troops conducted the Prague operation - the last strategic operation in the war. On May 9, a Soviet landing was planted on the Danish island Bornholm, which accepted the surrender of German troops on the island.
On January 19, 1945, the last commander of AK Leopold Okulicki issued an order for her dissolution. In February 1945, the representatives of the Polish émigré government in Poland, the majority of the delegates of the National Unity Council (temporary underground parliament) and the AK leaders were invited by the NKGB General IA Serov to a conference on the possible entry of representatives of non-communist groups into the Provisional Government, which was supported The Soviet Union. Poles were given security guarantees, but they were arrested in Pruszkow on March 27 and taken to Moscow, where they were tried.
On February 4-11, 1945, the Yalta Conference of Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt was held. It discussed the basic principles of postwar politics.
End of the war
The war in Europe culminated in the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces on May 8 at 22 hours 43 minutes on Central European Time. The fighting lasted 1,418 days. Nevertheless, after accepting surrender, the Soviet Union did not sign peace with Germany, that is, formally stayed with Germany in a state of war. The war with Germany was formally ended on January 25, 1955, with the publication by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of the decree "On the cessation of the state of war between the Soviet Union and Germany"  .
On June 24, Victory Parade was held in Moscow  . At the Potsdam conference of leaders of the USSR, Great Britain and the USA, held in July-August 1945, an agreement was reached on the issues of the post-war arrangement of Europe.
Battles, operations and battles
The largest battles of the Great Patriotic War:
There are various estimates of the losses of the Soviet Union and Germany during the war of 1941-1945. Differences are related both to methods of obtaining initial quantitative data for different loss groups, and to methods of calculation.
In Russia, official data on losses (army) in the Great Patriotic War were the data published by a group of researchers led by the consultant of the Military Memorial Center of the RF Armed Forces Grigory Krivosheev in 1993 [ not available at source ] . However, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry's department for perpetuating the memory of those who lost their lives in the defense of the Fatherland, Vladimir Popov, November 13, 2015 , called new, updated figures of Soviet losses in the Great Patriotic War. 
- Human losses of the USSR - 12 million servicemen "killed, died of wounds, prisoners, diseases, accidents executed by the judgments of the tribunals" and 4.4 million captured and missing. General demographic losses (including the dead civilian population) 26.6 million people;
- Human losses in Germany amount to 4.047 million servicemen killed and dead (including 3,605 million dead, wounded and missing at the front, 442,000 dead in captivity), another 2.91 million returned from captivity after the war. 
- Human losses of Germany 's allied countries - 806,000 servicemen killed (including 137,800 killed in captivity), 662,200 more returned from captivity after the war  .
- Irrevocable losses of the armies of the USSR and Germany with satellites (including prisoners of war) - 11.5 million and 8.6 million people. respectively. The ratio of irretrievable losses of German armies with satellites and the USSR is: 1: 1.3.
The USSR and the anti-Hitler coalition
After Germany's attack on the USSR, the latter became an ally of Great Britain. June 22, 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said:
The danger that threatens Russia is a danger that threatens us and the United States, just as the work of every Russian who fights for his hearth and home is a matter for free people and free peoples in all corners of the globe.
July 12, the USSR signed an agreement with Britain on joint action in the war against Germany. On July 18, a similar agreement was signed with the emigre government of Czechoslovakia, and on July 30 - with the Polish emigrant government (the Sikorski-Maisky Agreement).
On August 14, an agreement was reached with the Polish emigre government on the formation in the USSR of an army of Polish citizens who fell into Soviet captivity as a result of the Polish campaign of the Red Army in 1939, as well as Polish citizens who were deported or imprisoned (on August 12, About amnesty).
September 24, 1941, the USSR joined the Atlantic Charter, while expressing its dissenting opinion on certain issues. September 29 - October 1, 1941 in Moscow, a meeting of representatives of the USSR, the United States and Britain, ended with the signing of a protocol on mutual supplies . The first British Arctic convoy "Dervish" with military supplies for the USSR arrived in Arkhangelsk before that, August 31, 1941. To ensure the supply of military cargo to the USSR along the southern route in August 1941, Soviet and British troops were brought into Iran.
Deep in the autumn, Winston Churchill, irritated by the Soviet Ambassador Ivan Maisky, who demanded more help than the United Kingdom could provide, and who hinted unambiguously in case of refusal to lose the USSR, said:
Remember that four months ago we on our island did not know if you would not come out against us on the side of the Germans. Really, we thought it was possible. But even then we were convinced of our ultimate victory. We never believed that our salvation depends to some extent on your actions. Whatever happens and no matter what you do, you have no right to reproach us. 
The ideal outcome of the war in the East would be when the last German killed the last Russian and spread out dead.
- Randolph Churchill  , the son of Winston Churchill
If we see what Germany is winning, then we should help Russia, and if Russia wins, then we should help Germany, and so let them kill as much as possible, although I do not want under any circumstances to see Hitler in the winners .
Opinions and assessments
The decisive contribution of the Soviet Union to the defeat of fascism in Europe was also noted by the ideological opponents of the USSR.  .
It is noted that the losses of the USSR many times exceeded the losses of the remaining countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, while the total contribution to victory was largely brought about by the struggle of Soviet people. Here is what the well-known Soviet publicist Strelnikov wrote about this:
"Do you know, Mrs. Green, how much has our country lost during the last war?" - I ask. - 20 million men, women and children.
"It can not be!" - She is surprised. - We in the United States also experienced hardship. We introduced cards for gasoline for cars. You can not buy chicken every day ...
I wait, when she will finish her coffee, to bow and leave. Too unequal rates to discuss. Lack of chicken on the table - against 20 million dead. Cards for gasoline - against the tragedy of the Leningraders. The only bomb brought by a Japanese balloon and killing six farmers - against 1,700 destroyed Soviet cities ...
- Paying tribute to all fighters against fascism, it is necessary to emphasize that the contribution to the overall victory was different. The main merit in the defeat of Hitlerite Germany, undoubtedly, belongs to the Soviet Union. Throughout the Second World War, the Soviet-German front remained the main: it was here that 507 divisions of the Wehrmacht and 100 divisions of Germany's allies were routed ...
For these conquests the Soviet people paid a huge price. During the years of the Great Patriotic War, about 27 million of our compatriots died and died, 8,668,400 of them were losses of the army, navy, border and internal troops ... Two-thirds of the human losses fall on civilians.
This testifies to the policy of genocide perpetrated by the Hitlerites in innocent people, the inhuman occupation regime, the violation of all generally accepted international norms against Soviet people  .
The main result of the Great Patriotic War was the elimination of the mortal danger, the threat of enslavement and the genocide of the Russian and other peoples of the USSR. A powerful, inhuman enemy in just 4 months reached Moscow, up to the Kursk arc retained offensive capabilities. The turning point in the war and the victory were the result of an incredible tension of forces, the mass heroism of the people, which amazed both enemies and allies. The idea of inspiring the workers of the front and rear, uniting and multiplying their strength, fostering with the brutality of extraordinary measures of their own leadership, with unjustified sacrifices, was the idea of protecting their Fatherland as a righteous and righteous cause. The victory inspired the people with a sense of national pride and confidence in their abilities  .
On the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the creation of the Red Army, Joseph Stalin points out the inadmissibility of comparisons of the German people with the regime of Nazi Germany:
We can say with all certainty that this war will lead either to the fragmentation or total destruction of the Hitlerite clique. Funny attempts to identify the entire German people and the German state with this clique. The experience of history says that the Hitlerites come and go, but the people are Germanic, and the German state remains. The strength of the Red Army is that it does not know racial hatred, which is the source of Germany's weakness ... All freedom-loving nations are opposed to national socialist Germany ... We are fighting the German soldier not because he is German, but because he is carrying out the order to enslave Our people  .
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The exact quote looks like this:
Paradoxically, the defeat of Nazi Germany increased the international status of America, although it did not play a decisive role in the military victory over Hitlerism. The merit of achieving this victory must be recognized for the Stalinist Soviet Union, the odious rival of Hitler.
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