Russian troops moving through ruin city
- Project 60 -
Remembering the First Fight Against Fascism
German infantry on the attack
Hot Links: Barbarossa Map
Today: June 30, 1941
In heavy fighting, Army Group South captures (the formerly Polish city of) Lvov.
Stalin begins executions of the commanders who failed to stop the invasion (conveniently forgetting that he was the one who kept on ignoring reports from the frontier and his own spies that the invasion was coming). Pavlov, commander of the Western Front was most notable among those who "lost their jobs".
Vichy France decides to break diplomatic ties with the USSR (a mortal body blow to the Russians - ha).
June 29, 1941
The Soviet government tells the people to leave nothing for the Germans, ordering " the removal of all rolling stock, leaving not a single locomotive, not a truck, not a kilogram of bread, not a liter of fuel. Collective farms must drive away their cattle . All property of value, any, including ferrous metals, bread and fuel which cannot be taken away, must, without exceptions be destroyed." This was the famous "Scorched Earth" policy.
Soviet marines and elements of the 67th Rifle Division defending the Libau naval base far to the rear of the Germans run out of ammunition and time. The city and base are surrendered after inflicting heavy losses on the Germans.
German troops attempted to take Riga by storming the railroad bridge over the Dvina River. They were successful in establishing a foothold on the eastern bank, but counter-attacking Russian forces destroyed the invaders.
The German advance out of Norway, directed at the vital northern port of Murmansk is stopped by determined Soviet defenses.
The Finns under Mannerheim begin a major offensive on the Karelian Isthmus north of Leningrad.
Forces of Army Group South eliminate pockets of resistance, consolidate their forces, regroup for the continued advance toward Kiev.
June 28, 1941
Rioting breaks out in the newly "liberated" city of Kaunas. The German military authorities stand by as 3800 Jews are killed by the angry mobs.
counter-attacks in the Dubno region collapse. Russian forces are now withdrawing
on all fronts.
The Finns begin their advance into Russia.
The Germans capture Minsk as the death grip on the encircled Soviet armies tightens. The Gestapo also enters the city, ordering all men from 15 to 45 years of age to appear at the registration point. Thousands obey and are marched off to Drozdy camp.
June 27, 1941
In Army Group Center, Guderian's Panzer Group 2 and Hoth's Panzer Group 3 meet east of Minsk, completing the first major encirclement of soviet forces. Some 200,000 men from the Russian 3rd, 10th and 13th Armies are cut off in the west of Minsk.
In Army Group South's sector, Soviet counter attacks north of Dubno begin to sputter as uncoordinated Soviet battle groups are destroyed by the more coordinated German efforts. However, the attacks approaching from south of Dubno are more successful and create some confusion in the German attacks. Meanwhile, 11 Panzer division drives east of Dubno, breaking through the Soviet defenses and capturing Ostrog, 30 kilometers in the Soviet's rear.
June 26, 1941
Organized Soviet resistance in the fortress town of Brest-Litovsk comes to an end after four days of extremely heavy fighting. The Germans finally pummeled the defenders into submission with massive air strikes and heavy artillery bombardment.
In Army Group North, tanks of von Manstein's 4th Panzer Group capture the Dvina River bridges at Daugavipils intact. Hitler orders these forces to stop, consolidate, gather supplies and wait for the infantry forces, far to the rear, to catch up. Many "historians" have indicated that this decision was fatal for the swift capture of Leningrad. This opinion, however, ignores the terrain on the approach, the Red army, and the appalling logistics situation for the Germans.
In Army Group Center, the 7th Panzer Division (Rommel's old unit from France) driving north of Minsk, cuts the Minsk-Moscow highway, the main supply route for the Soviet West Front. Further to the south, Guderian's 2 Panzer Group is driving hard to complete the encirclement of the Soviet forces around Minsk.
In Army Group South, the Soviets launch fresh and very strong counterattacks against the German spearheads. These attacks fall particularly hard on the 16th Panzer Division in the area around Ostrov. Further to the north, 11th Panzer Division is blocked in it's advance at Dubno. The advance of the this army group is temporarily stopped.
June 25, 1941
German troops confront the Soviet KV-I and KV-II heavy tanks in battle. The German anti-tank guns and panzers are unable to cope with these behemoths and resort to using the 88mm anti-aircraft gun and 100mm field artillery to stop the beasts. This was a very rude surprise to the Germans.
Forces of Army Group Center (3rd Panzer Group) capture Vilnius. Army Group South meets stiff opposition as the Soviet Southwest Front concentrates large tank formations in front of the advancing 1st Panzer Group. Soviet counter attacks around Grodno continue but begin to falter. In the far north, Soviet defenses stiffen around Murmansk, stopping the Germans short of their goal. The Germans would never capture the vital supply port.
Finland joins the Axis nations by declaring war on the U.S.S.R.
Sweden, although technically neutral, allows armed German troops to move through their nation on the way to Russia.
Roosevelt signs Executive Order 8802 which calls for the " Full Participation In The Defense Program By All Persons, Regardless Of Race, Creed, Color, Or National Origin" (he knew he'd need everybody's help to crush fascism). Also, the (thrice elected in an honest vote) president, declared that the Siberian port Vladivostok, would be exempt from the neutrality statutes so supplies could flow to Russia.
June 24, 1941
The Germans continue to advance in pursuit of the retreating Russian forces. In the north, the destruction of the Soviet armored reserves is completed and the German columns begin to break into the clear. In the center, Soviet resistance is shattered as German tank columns enter Vilnius. Heavy fighting is still reported in the south as German forces make marginal gains toward Kiev. The Germans gain air superiority over the front as 2000 Russian planes have now been destroyed since hostilities started.
Roosevelt orders all Soviet assets released and promises aid to the beleaguered nation.
June 23, 1941
Hungary joins Germany, Rumania, Italy, Slovakia and Croatia by declaring war on the Soviet Union.
The relentless advance in Russia continues as shattered Soviet forces flood east pursued by the German invaders. German panzer units begin to meet Soviet tank formations rushing to the front. The Soviet columns are badly organized and depleted because of constant air attacks. On the approaches to Vilnius, German tank columns bypass pockets of resistance and drive deep into the Soviet rear areas. Further to the south, German forces are met by strong resistance and a fierce tank battle develops around Dubno.
British forces advance to Palmyra in Syria against strong Vichy French resistance.
June 22, 1941
BARBAROSSA! The Invasion of Russia Begins
At 3:00 A.M., three million battle hardened soldiers of German Wehrmacht, struck the ill-prepared Soviet army, starting one of the single most devastating and titanic struggles in history. Three German Army Groups, North, Center and South, struck for their respective goals of Leningrad, Moscow and Kiev.
German aircraft pounded targets deep in Russia. Airfields were a primary target and by days end, 500 Soviet planes were destroyed, mostly on the ground. Russian border forces were quickly overrun after brief but vicious fights. One notable exception, the fortress of Brest-Litovsk on the Bug River, holds against ferocious German attacks. Efforts to mobilize defensive countermeasures were chaotic as reinforcing columns are harassed by constant air attacks. By days end, German ground forces advance 15-25 miles.
Hitler declared that when he unleashed his armies to the east, "The world will hold its breath". This was one of the few statements he made that was absolutely correct.
Churchill declares Britain will assist the
Soviets saying, "Any man or State who fights against Nazism will have our
aid. Any man or State who marches with Hitler is our foe." One hopes these
words would be remembered today.