The Eastern Front was the theatre of combat between Nazi Germany and its allies against the Soviet Union during World War II. It was somewhat separate from the other theatres of the war, not only geographically, but also for its scale and ferocity. In Russia, the war is referred to as the Great Patriotic War (Великая Отечественная Война, Velikaya Otechestvennaya Voyna in Russian), a name which alludes to the Russo–Napoleonic Patriotic War on Russian soil in 1812. The Russo-Finnish Continuation War may be considered the northern flank of the Eastern Front. Some scholars of the conflict use the term Russo-German War, while others use Soviet-German War or German-Soviet War.
The front was opened by Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941 4:00 am, when Germany invaded the Soviet-occupied part of Poland; and ended on 8 May 1945 when Germany surrendered following the Battle of Berlin. In the Soviet Union the end of war was marked on 9 May, when the surrender took effect Moscow time. This date is celebrated as national holiday, Victory Day, or День Победы in the Russian Federation and some other post-Soviet countries.
The outbreak of war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union put an end to their unity established by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, that among other things had led to the one month long Polish September Campaign of 1939, the unfinished Soviet invasion of Finland in the Winter War (1939–1940), and the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries.
In 1939, the German and Soviet governments had arranged a peaceful border via the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and so Operation Barbarossa caught the Soviet leadership largely by surprise. Even though Germany had been assembling very large numbers of troops in eastern Poland and making clandestine reconnaissance flights over the border, Stalin ignored the warnings of his own as well as foreign intelligence. Moreover, on the very night of the invasion Soviet troops received a directive undersigned by Marshal Timoshenko and General of the Army Georgi Zhukov that commanded: "do not answer to any provocations" and "do not undertake any actions without specific orders".
At 4:45 am on 22 June 1941 4 million German, Italian, Romanian and other Axis troops burst over the borders and stormed into the Soviet Union. For a month the three-pronged offensive was completely unstoppable as the Panzer forces surrounded hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops in huge pockets that were then reduced by slower-moving infantry divisions while the panzers charged on.
Army Group North's objective was Leningrad via the Baltic States. Comprising the 16th and 18th Armies and 4th Panzer Group, this formation drove through Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Russian cities of Pskov and Novgorod. Army Group Centre comprised two Panzer groups (2nd and 3rd), which rolled east from either side of Brest-Litovsk and converged ahead of Minsk, followed by 2nd, 4th and 9th Armies. The combined Panzer force reached the Beresina river in just six days, 400 miles from their start lines. The next objective was to cross the Dniepr river, which was accomplished by 11 July. Following that, their next target was Smolensk, which fell on 16 July, but the engagement in the Smolensk area blocked the German advance until mid-September, effectively disrupting the blitzkrieg.
Army Group South, with 1st Panzer Group, 6th, 11th and 17th Armies, was tasked with advancing through Galicia and into the Ukraine. Their progress, however, was rather slower, with only the corridor towards Kiev secure by mid-July. 11th Army, aided by two Romanian armies, fought its way through Bessarabia towards Odessa. 1st Panzer Group turned away from Kiev for the moment, advancing into the Dniepr bend. When it joined up with the southern elements of Army Group South at Uman, the group captured 600,000 Soviet prisoners in a huge pocket. 11th Army then moved into the Crimea and had taken control of all of the peninsula by autumn (except Sevastopol, which held out until 3 July 1942).
As the Red Army withdrew behind the Dniepr and Dvina rivers, the Soviet hierarchy turned its attention to moving as much of the region's heavy industry as it could dismantle and pack onto flatcars away from the front line, re-establishing it in more remote areas behind the Urals and in Central Asia. Most civilians could not be evacuated along with the equipment, and were left behind to die, which was a fate far more acceptable than surrender (and one which would be remembered when the time came).
With the capture of Smolensk and the advance to the Luga river, Army Groups Centre and North had completed their first major objective: to get across and hold the 'land bridge' between the Dvina and Dniepr. The route to Moscow, now only 250 miles away, was wide open - but it was here that Hitler made the critical strategic error that many experts reckon cost Germany the war on the spot (if invading the Soviet Union at all hadn't done that first). Citing the importance of Ukrainian grain and heavy industry if under German possession, not to mention the massing of Soviet reserves in the Gomel area between Army Group Centre's southern flanks and the bogged-down Army Group South to the south, the order was issued to 2nd Panzer Group to turn south and advance towards Kiev. This took the whole of August and into September, but when 2nd Panzer Group joined up with 1st Panzer Group at Lokhvitsa on 5 September, 665,000 Soviet prisoners were taken and Kiev fell shortly after.
Now Hitler decided to resume the advance to Moscow, renaming the Panzer Groups to Panzer Armies for the occasion. Operation Typhoon, which was set in motion on 30 September, saw 2nd Panzer Army rush along the paved road from Orel (captured 7 October) to the Oka river at Plavskoye, while the 4th Panzer Army (transferred from Army Group North to Centre) and 3rd Panzer Armies surrounded the Soviet forces in two huge pockets at Vyazma and Bryansk. Army Group North positioned itself in front of Leningrad and attempted to cut the rail link at Tikhvin to the east. Thus began the 900-day Siege of Leningrad. North of the Arctic Circle, a German-Finnish force set out for Murmansk but could get no further than the Litsa river, where they settled down.
Army Group South pushed down from the Dniepr to the Sea of Azov coast, also advancing through Kharkov, Kursk and Stalino, and on 21 November took Rostov, the gateway to the Caucasus. However, the German lines were over-extended and the Soviet defenders counterattacked the 1st Panzer Army's spearhead from the north, forcing them to pull out of the city and behind the Mius river; the first proper German withdrawal of the war.
Just as Operation Typhoon got going, the Russian weather struck. For the second half of October it rained solidly, turning what few roads there were into endless mud that trapped German vehicles, horses and men alike. With 100 miles still to go to Moscow, there was worse to come when the temperature plunged and snow started following. The vehicles could move again, but the men could not, freezing with no winter clothing. The German leadership, expecting the campaign to be over in a few months, had not equipped their armies for winter fighting.
One last lunge on 15 November saw the Germans attempting to throw a ring around Moscow. On 27 November 4th Panzer Army got within 19 miles of the Kremlin when it reached the last tramstop of the Moscow line at Khimki, while 2nd Panzer Army, try as it might, could not take Tula, the last Russian city that stood in its way of the capital. Furious rows marked the difference in opinion between Hitler, who insisted that the drive towards Moscow could not be halted, and his generals, whose troops were completely exhausted in the murderous cold. As the Fuhrer started sacking those commanders who opposed him, it was at this point that the Soviets struck back for the first time.
The Soviet winter offensive of 5 December 1941 pried the German pincers away from Moscow. It commenced using fresh troops diverted from Siberia following the Japanese decision not to invade Russia from the east,. A further Soviet attack was mounted in late January, focusing on the junction between Army Groups North and Centre between Lake Seliger and Rzhev, and drove a gap between the two German army groups. In concert with the advance from Kaluga to the south-west of Moscow, it was intended that the two offensives converge on Smolensk, but the Germans rallied and managed to hold them apart, retaining a salient at Rzhev. A Soviet parachute drop on German-held Dorogobuzh was spectacularly unsuccessful and those paratroopers who survived had to escape to the partisan-held areas beginning to swell behind German lines. To the north, the Soviets surrounded a German garrison in Demyansk, which held out with air supply for four months, and established themselves in front of Kholm, Velizh and Velikie Luki.
In the south the Red Army crashed over the Donets River at Izyum and drove a sixty-mile deep salient. The intent was to pin Army Group South against the Sea of Azov, but as the winter eased the Germans were able to stabilise their front and think about the 1942 campaigning season.
Although plans were made to attack Moscow again, on 28 June 1942 the offensive re-opened in a different direction. Army Group South took the initiative, anchoring the front on Voronezh and then following the Don river southeastwards. The grand plan was to secure the Don and Volga first and then drive into the Caucasus towards the oilfields, but operational considerations and Hitler's vanity made him order both objectives to be attempted simultaneously. Rostov was recaptured on 24 July when 1st Panzer Army joined in, and then that group drove south towards Maikop. As part of this, Operation Shamil was executed, a plan whereby a group of Brandenburger commandos dressed up as Soviet NKVD troops to destabilise Maikop's defenses and allow the 1st Panzer Army to enter the oil town with little opposition.
Meanwhile, 6th Army was driving towards Stalingrad, for a long period unsupported by 4th Panzer Army who had been diverted to help 1st Panzer Army cross the Don. By the time 4th Panzer Army had rejoined the Stalingrad offensive, Soviet resistance (comprising the 62nd Army under Vasily Chuikov) had stiffened. A leap across the Don brought German troops to the Volga on 23 August but for the next three months the Wehrmacht would be fighting the Battle of Stalingrad street-by-street.
Towards the south 1st Panzer Army had reached the Caucasian foothills and the Malka river. At the end of August Romanian mountain troops joined the Caucasian spearhead, while the Romanian 3rd and 4th Armies were redeployed from their successful task of clearing the Azov littoral. They took up position either side of Stalingrad to free German troops for the proper fighting. Mindful of the continuing antagonism between Axis allies Romania and Hungary over Transylvania, the Romanian army in the Don bend was separated from the Hungarian 2nd army by the Italian 8th Army. Thus all of Hitler's allies were in it - including a Slovakian contingent with 1st Panzer Army and a Croatian regiment attached to 6th Army. The advance into the Caucasus bogged down, with the Germans unable to fight their way past Malgobek and to the main prize of Grozny. Instead they switched the direction of their advance to come at it from the south, crossing the Malka at the end of October and entering North Ossetia. In the first week of November, on the outskirts of Ordzhonikidze, the 13th Panzer Division's spearhead was snipped off and the Panzer troops had to fall back. The offensive into Russia was over.
While the German 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army had been fighting their way into Stalingrad, Soviet armies had congregated on either side of the city, specifically into the Don bridgeheads that the Romanians had been unable to reduce, and it was from these that they struck on 19 November 1942. Two Soviet fronts punched through the Romanians and converged at Kalach on 23 November, trapping 300,000 Axis troops behind them. A simultaneous offensive on the Rzhev sector known as Operation Mars was supposed to advance to Smolensk, but was a failure, with German tactical flair winning the day.
The Germans rushed to transfer troops to Russia for a desperate attempt to relieve Stalingrad, but the offensive could not get going till 12 December, by which time the 6th Army in Stalingrad was starving and too weak to break out towards it. Operation Winter Storm, with three transferred Panzer divisions, got going briskly from Kotelnikovo towards the Aksai river but bogged down 40 miles short of its goal. To divert the rescue attempt the Soviets decided to smash the Italians and come down behind the relief attempt if they could, that operation starting on 16 December. What it did accomplish was to destroy many of the aircraft that had been transporting relief supplies to Stalingrad. The fairly limited scope of the Soviet offensive, although still eventually targeted on Rostov, also allowed Hitler time to see sense and pull Army Group A out of the Caucasus and back over the Don.
On 31 January 1943 the paltry remnant of the 300,000 man 6th Army surrendered, and by that time the Hungarian contingent had also been wiped out. The Soviets advanced from the Don 300 miles to the west of Stalingrad, marching through Kursk (taken 8 February 1943) and Kharkov (taken 16 February 1943). In order to save the position in the south, the decision was taken in February to abandon the Rzhev salient, freeing enough German troops to make a successful riposte in the eastern Ukraine. Manstein's counteroffensive, stiffened by a specially trained SS Panzer Corps equipped with Tiger tanks, opened on 20 February 1943 and fought its way from Poltava back into Kharkov in the third week of March, upon which the spring thaw intervened. However, this had left a glaring bulge in the front centred on Kursk.
After the failure of the attempt to capture Stalingrad, Hitler had deferred planning authority for the upcoming campaign season to the German Army High Command and reinstated Guderian to a prominent role, this time as Inspector of Panzer Troops. Debate among the general staff was polarised, with even Hitler nervous about any attempt to pinch off the Kursk salient. He knew that in the intervening six months the Russian position at Kursk had been reinforced heavily with anti tank guns, tank traps, mines, barbed wire, trenches, pillboxes, artillery and mortars. But if one last great blitzkrieg offensive could be mounted, just maybe the Soviets would ease off and attention could then be turned to the Allied threat to the Western Front. The advance would be executed from the Orel Salient and from the north of Belgorod. Both wings would converge on Tim, and by that means restore the lines of Army Group South to the exact points that it held over the winter of 1941-1942. Although the Germans knew that the Red Army's massive reserves of manpower had been bled dry in the summer of 1941 and 1942, the Soviets were still re-equipping, simply by drafting the men from the regions recaptured.
Battle of Kursk
See Battle of Kursk for main article.
Under pressure from his generals, Hitler bit the bullet and chose to attack Kursk, little realising that the Abwehr's intelligence on the Soviet position there had been undermined by a concerted Stavka misinformation and counter-intelligence campaign mounted by the Lucy spy ring in Switzerland. When the Germans began the operation, it was after months of delays waiting for new tanks and equipment, by which time the Soviets had reinforced the Kursk salient with more anti-tank firepower than had ever been assembled in one place before or since.
In the north, the entire 9th Army had been redeployed from the Rzhev salient into the Orel salient and was to advance from Maloarkhangelsk to Kursk. But its forces could not even get past the first objective at Olkhovatka, just five miles into the advance. The 9th Army blunted its spearhead against the Soviet minefields, frustratingly so considering that the high ground there was the only natural barrier between them and flat tank country all the way to Kursk. The direction of advance was then switched to Ponyri, to the west of Olkhovatka, but the 9th Army could not break through here either and went over to the defensive. The Soviets simply soaked up the German punishment and then struck back. On 12 July the Red Army ploughed through the demarcation line between the 211th and 293rd Divisions on the Zhizdra river and steamed towards Karachev, right behind them and behind Orel.
The southern offensive, spearheaded by 4th Panzer Army, made more headway. Advancing on either side of the upper Donets on a narrow corridor, the SS Panzer Corps and the Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadier Divisions battled its way through minefields and over comparatively high ground towards Oboyan. Stiff resistance caused a change of direction from east to west of the front, but the Tigers and Panthers got fifteen miles before encountering the reserves of the Soviet 5th Tank Army outside Prokhorovka. Battle was joined on 12 July, with thousands of tanks doing battle. At the end of the day both sides had fought each other to a standstill. The Soviets could absorb the fearful losses of men and equipment that they did, but the Germans could not, and that was what won the day. Also worried by the Allies landing in Sicily on 10 July, Hitler took fright and withdrew the SS Panzer Corps from the southern face of the Kursk salient, and that was the end of the Germans' final attack in Russia.
The Battle of Kursk represented a scaled-up version of the battles of the first world war - infantry advancing under machine gun fire, and tanks advancing on batteries of anti-tank guns. Much of the German equipment was new and untested, with undertrained crews. The new tank hunter units, though sporting a highly effective 88mm cannon, had no hull mounted machine gun to protect against infantry, and were quickly targeted by the Soviet anti tank guns, which were positioned in hemispherical concave bulges, forming semicircles of high velocity crossfire. Moreover, these positions were protected by small two-man foxholes armed with limpet tank mines, machine gun nests, and mortar fire, ensuring than the Wehrmacht infantry could not effectively defend the tanks. The Kursk offensive was the last on the scale of 1940 and 1941 the Wehrmacht was able to launch, and subsequent offensives would represent only a shadow of previous German offensive might. Following the defeat, Hitler would not trust his generals to the same extent again, and as his own mental condition deteriorated the quality of German strategic decision fell correspondingly.
The Soviet juggernaut got rolling in earnest with the advance into the Germans' Orel salient. The diversion of Hitler's favourite Grossdeutschland division from Belgorod to Karachev could not halt the tide, and a strategic decision was made to abandon Orel (taken by the Red Army on 5 August 1943) and fall back to the Hagen line in front of Bryansk. To the south, the Soviets blasted through Army Group South's Belgorod positions and headed for Kharkov once again. Though intense battles of movement throughout late July and into August 1943 saw the Tigers blunting Soviet tanks on one axis, they were soon outflanked on another line to the west as the Soviets advanced down the Psel, and Kharkov had to be evacuated for the final time on 22 August.
The German forces on the Mius, now constituting the 1st Panzer Army and a reconstituted 6th Army, were by August too weak to sustain a Soviet onslaught on their own front, and when the Soviets hit them they had to fall back all the way through the Donbass industrial region to the Dniepr. There went the industrial resources and half the farmland that the Germans had invaded The USSR to exploit. At this time Hitler agreed to a general withdrawal to the Dniepr line, along which was meant to be the Ostwall, a line of defence similar to the Westwall (of fortifications along the West German frontier also known as the "Siegfried Line"). Trouble was, it hadn't been built yet, and by the time Army Group South had evacuated the eastern Ukraine and begun withdrawing across the Dniepr during September, the Soviets were hard behind them. Tenaciously, small units paddled their way across the 2-mile wide river and established bridgeheads. A second attempt by the Soviets to gain land using parachutists, mounted at Kanev on 24 September, proved as luckless as at Dorogobuzh eighteen months previously, and the paratroopers were soon repelled - but not before still more Red Army men had used the cover they provided to get themselves over the Dniepr and securely bedded in. As September proceeded into October, the Germans found the Dniepr line impossible to hold as the Soviet bridgeheads grew and grew, and important Dniepr towns started to fall, with Zaporozhye the first to go, followed by Dnepropetrovsk.
Further to the north, Army Group Centre was pushed back from the Hagen line slowly, losing comparatively little territory, but losing Bryansk and more importantly, Smolensk, on 25 September. The town was the keystone of the entire German defensive system, but the 4th and 9th Armies and 3rd Panzer Armies still held their own east of the upper Dniepr. On Army Group North's front, there was barely any fighting at all. Had they been forgotten, the Wehrmacht troops of the 16th and 18th Armies wondered? No - their time would come in 1944.
In January 1944 Novgorod was recaptured; by February the Red Army had reached Estonia and pocketed 10 divisions near Cherkassy.
In the south, they reached the Romanian border in March, captured Odessa in April, and Sevastopol in May. The Soviet advance in the south continued into Romania and following a coup against Axis-allied government of Romania, the Red army occupied Bucharest on August 31. In Moscow on September 12, Romania and the Soviet Union signed an armistice on terms Moscow virtually dictated. The Romanian surrender tore a hole in the southern German Eastern Front causing the loss of the whole of the Balkans.
On the central front, a massive soviet attack, called operation Bagration, starting on June 22 led eventually to the destruction of the German Army Group Centre the next year. In Poland, as the Red Army approached Warsaw in July, the Soviet propaganda encouraged the Poles to take up arms in the Warsaw Uprising, but the Soviet Army halted at the Vistula River under circumstances that raised suspicions that the motive was to weaken the Poles and make Poland more susceptible for a Communist takeover; the official reason was lack of supplies for further advancment. The refusal to allow other Allied planes, dropping supplies into the city, to re-fuel at Soviet airfields, (despite the facilities of Operation Frantic), gives the lie to this official reason. In October, the Red army moved into Hungary. During the liberation of Poland, The Polish People's Army was formed; it fought side by side with the Soviets for the rest of the war.
The Soviet commanders, after their inaction during the Warsaw Uprising, took Warsaw in January 1945. Over three days, on a broad front incorporating four army Fronts, the Red Army began an offensive across the Narew River and from Warsaw. The Soviets outnumbered the Germans on average by 9:1 in troops, 9 or 10:1 in artillery, and 10:1 in tanks and self-propelled artillery. After four days the Red Army broke out and started moving thirty to forty kilometres a day, taking the Baltic states, Danzig, East Prussia, Poznan, and drawing up on a line sixty km east of Berlin along the Oder River.
On the 25th of January Hitler renamed three army groups. Army Group North became Army Group Courland; Army Group Centre became Army Group North and Army Group A became Army Group Centre. Army Group North (old Army Group Centre) was driven into an ever smaller pocket around Königsberg in East Prussia.
A counterattack by the newly created Army Group Vistula, under the command of Heinrich Himmler, had failed by February 24, and the Soviets drove on to Pomerania and cleared the right bank of the Oder River. In the south, three German attempts to relieve the encircled Budapest failed and the city fell on February 13 to the Soviets. Again the Germans counterattacked, Hitler insisting on the impossible task of regaining the Danube River. By March 16 the attack had failed and the Red Army counterattacked the same day. On March 30 they entered Austria and captured Vienna on April 13.
On April 9, 1945 Konigsberg finally fell to the Red Army, although the shattered remnants of Army Group North continued to resist on the Heiligenbeil & Danzig beachheads until the end of the war in Europe. This freed up General Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian Front (2BF) to move west to the east bank of the Oder river. During the first two weeks of April the Soviets performed their fastest front redeployment of the war. General Georgy Zhukov concentrated his 1st Belorussian Front (1BF) which had been deployed along the Oder river from Frankfurt in the south to the Baltic, into an area in front of the Seelow Heights. The 2BF moved into the positions being vacated by the 1BF north of the Seelow Heights. While this redeployment was in progress gaps were left in the lines and the remnants of the German II Army which had been bottled up in a pocket near Danzig managed to escape across the Oder. To the south General Konev shifted the main weight of the 1st Ukrainian Front (1UF) out of Upper Silesia north-west to the Neisse River. The three Soviet fronts had altogether 2.5 million men (including 78,556 soldiers of the 1st Polish Army); 6,250 tanks; 7,500 aircraft; 41,600 artillery pieces and mortars; 3,255 truck-mounted Katyushas rockets, (nicknamed 'Stalin Organs'); and 95,383 motor vehicles, many manufactured in the USA.
Map of final Soviet offensives on the Eastern Front
All that was left for the Soviets to do was to launch an offensive to capture what was to become East Germany (GDR). The Soviet offensive had two objectives. Because of Stalin's suspicions about the intentions of the Western Allies to hand over territory occupied by them in the post war Soviet zone of occupation, the offensive was to be on a broad front and was to move as rapidly as possible to the west, to meet the Western Allies as far west as possible. But the overriding objective was to capture Berlin. The two were complementary because possession of the zone could not be won quickly unless Berlin was taken. Another consideration was that Berlin itself held useful post war strategic assets, including Adolf Hitler and the German atomic bomb programme.
The offensive to capture East Germany and Berlin started on April 16 with an assult on the German front lines on the Oder and Neisse rivers. After serveral days of heavy fighting the Soviet 1BF and 1UF had punched holes through the German front line and were fanning out across East Germany. By the April 24 elements of the 1BF and 1UF had completed the encirclement of Berlin and the Battle of Berlin entered its final stages. On April 25 The next 2BF broke through the German III Panzer Army's line south of Stettin. They were now free to move west towards the British 21st Army Group and north towards the Baltic port of Stralsund. The Soviet 58th Guards Division of the 5th Guards Army made contact with the US 69th Infantry Division of the First Army near Torgau, Germany on the Elbe river.
On April 30, as the Soviet forces fought their way into the centre of Berlin, Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun and then committed suicide by taking cyanide and shooting himself. Helmuth Weidling, defence commandant of Berlin, surrendered the city to the Soviets on May 2.
At 2:41 on the morning of May 7, 1945, at the SHAEF headquaters, German Chief-of-Staff General Alfred Jodl signed the unconditional surrender documents for all German forces to the Allies. It included the phrase All forces under German control to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European time on 8th May 1945. The next day shortly before midnight, Jodl repeated the signing in Berlin at Zhukov's headquaters. The war in Europe was over.
Several cities in the Soviet Union were awarded the title Hero City for their heroism in the desperate defence against the German aggressors.
The war on the Eastern Front was unparalleled for its ferocity, intensity, and brutality. By most estimates some 4 million Axis troops and 8 million Soviet troops were either killed in battle, died of starvation, disease, exposure, friendly fire or as POWs. Germany committed widespread and terrible atrocities against the civilian population. The Soviet Army in several instances perpetrated retaliatory atrocities in Germany. Both Nazis and Soviets brutally mistreated their POW's, often letting them starve to death or killing them outright. It should be noted that fascist atrocities had a structured and centralized character, while the Soviet government and the army command made strong but almost fruitless attempts to curb retaliation by their troops by means of instituting severe punishments for rape and murder. Looting, however, was almost ignored for a fairly long time. Another 20 million Soviet civilians fell victim to massacres, disease, and starvation during the war. The real figures released during Mikhail Gorbachev's time show that an estimated total of 27-28 million Soviet citizens perished in the war.
The scale of the conflict dwarfs all others in World War II. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had hundreds of divisions in action, while other theatres of the war measured their commitments in tens of divisions or less. However, full accounts of the war have been difficult, partly due to loss of records, and partly due to Soviet secretiveness and propaganda efforts. In recent years the opening of Soviet archives has afforded considerable insight into the strategies and motives on the Soviet side, supplementing previous accounts that often had to be written largely based on the point of view of the Western Allied and surviving Germans.
- Liddel Hart, Sir Basil (1970) History of the Second World War Cassel & Co; Pan Books, 1973, London
- Sajer, Guy; The Forgotten Soldier. Brassey's Inc. (2001): ISBN 1574882864. Excellent, personal telling of a regular German soldier's experience of the Eastern Front in WWII.
- Seaton, Albert, The Russo-German War 1941–45 (Praeger, 1971)
- Glantz, David and House, Jonathan; When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army stopped Hitler. University Press of Kansas, 1995. Excellent revisionist book by two foremost authorities that basically argues the Soviet military, after the setbacks of 1941, became superior to the German armed forces in manpower, material, and ultimately even tactics.
- OnWar maps of the Eastern Front (http://www.onwar.com/maps/wwii/eastfront1/index.htm)
- Erinnerungen des Leutnants d.R. Wilhelm Radkovsky 1940-1945 (http://www.wilhelm-radkovsky.de/)