Some thoughts on D-Day

Moon of Alabama (June 06 2014)

While it is given much emphasis in the “western” view of the second world war Operation Overlord {1}, the invasion on D-Day and the following month of fighting at the Western front, were strategically less important than the Soviet operations on the Eastern front. Without the parallel Soviet Operation Bagration {2} the invasion of fortress Europe in the west would likely have failed. Looking at the numbers of forces involved and German forces destroyed one might even argue that Overlord was just a diversion to keep a few German divisions busy while the Soviet attack in the East destroyed whole German armies.

At the Tehran conference {3} in winter of 1943 Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin aligned their strategies:

The declaration issued by the three leaders on conclusion of the conference on 1 December 1943, recorded the following military conclusions:

The cross-channel invasion of France (Operation Overlord) would be launched during May 1944, in conjunction with an operation against southern France. The latter operation would be undertaken in as great a strength as availability of landing-craft permitted. The Conference further took note of Joseph Stalin’s statement that the Soviet forces would launch an offensive at about the same time with the object of preventing the German forces from transferring from the Eastern to the Western Front;

Stalin more than kept {4} his promise:

The partisan brigades, including many Jewish fighters and concentration-camp escapees, planted 40,000 demolition charges. They devastated the vital rail lines linking German Army Group Centre to its bases in Poland and Eastern Prussia.

Three days later, on June 22 1944, the third anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, Marshal Zhukov gave the order for the main assault on German front lines. Twenty-six thousand heavy guns pulverised German forward positions. The screams of the Katyusha rockets were followed by the roar of 4,000 tanks and the battle cries (in more than forty languages) of 1.6 million Soviet soldiers. Thus began Operation Bagration, an assault over a 500-mile-long front.

The Soviet summer offensive was several times larger than Operation Overlord (the invasion of Normandy), both in the scale of forces engaged and the direct cost to the Germans.

By the end of summer, the Red army had reached the gates of Warsaw as well as the Carpathian passes commanding the entrance to central Europe. Soviet tanks had caught Army Group Centre in steel pincers and destroyed it. The Germans would lose more than 300,000 men in Belorussia alone. Another huge German army had been encircled and would be annihilated along the Baltic coast. The road to Berlin had been opened.

In total some seventy to eighty percent of German losses occurred in the East. In 1944 there were 228 German divisions in the East compared to a total of 58 divisions in the West (and South) {5}. In June, July and August 1944 alone the Soviets completely destroyed some 28 German divisions. A bigger German force than the fifteen divisions that existed on the Western front in France on D-Day and the weeks thereafter.

It is embarrassing to see how many propaganda lines are spent on D-Day compared to the few acknowledgments of the much huger Soviet efforts and casualties on the Eastern front {6}.

Links:

{1} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Overlord

{2} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Bagration

{3} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tehran_conference

{4} http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/jun/11/russia.secondworldwar

{5} https://twitter.com/AthertonKD/status/474727394646171649/photo/1

{6} https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/WorldWarII-MilitaryDeaths-Allies-Piechart.png

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/06/d-day.html

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: