Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

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Der Alte Fritz
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Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 02 Jul 2023 18:37

We noted in the recent thread that the Lublin-Brest Operation has a series of names and a series of planning meetings lasting from the start of April through May. This represents important evidence as to whether the Lublin-Brest Operation was part of Operation Bagration or part of the Lvov Sandomir Operation.

See viewtopic.php?f=79&t=271587

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 03 Jul 2023 04:53

Der Alte Fritz wrote:
02 Jul 2023 18:37
We noted in the recent thread that the Lublin-Brest Operation has a series of names and a series of planning meetings lasting from the start of April through May. This represents important evidence as to whether the Lublin-Brest Operation was part of Operation Bagration or part of the Lvov Sandomir Operation.

See viewtopic.php?f=79&t=271587
The interaction between 1st Ukrainian Front's offensive plans and 1st Belorussian Front's plans was minimal, I think. In the back half of April into the 1st week of May 1st Ukrainian Front was fighting difficult defensive battles against the Germans and Hungarians on the approaches to Ivano-Frankivsk, Stanislav back then. It was focused on the fighting south of the Dniester, and on the right wing (18th Army, then 3rd Guards Army) it mainly tried to improve its contact with 1st Belorussian Front's 69th Army. Limited efforts were made to probe towards Volodymyr in mid-April. There were German counterattacks against 18th Army in mid-April by 214th and 72nd ID (plus armored reinforcements). But the area wasn't treated with much importance in same timeframe 1st Belorussian Front was developing its original plans for the Kovel operation - Rokossovsky was in Moscow with staff from 4/22-26.

1st Ukrainian Front's planned for its Galicia offensive from April up to 6/20-26 to have a major attack south of the Dniester by 1-2 tank armies and 2 CAAs. It was only in the last days of June that a blow from 3rd Guards Army and 13th Army from the area east of Sokal-Volodymyr reinforced by 1st Guards Tank Army was decided on. Previously it was just a secondary axis of 2 tank/mech corps.

1st Belorussian Front's main focus during this period was its left wing. It closed the gap between its 47th Army and 1st Ukrainian Front along the bend in the upper reaches of the Turiya River with the 69th Army and 7th Guards Cavalry Corps by mid-April, and even pushed as far as Volodymyr's suburbs on 4/12 with 16th Guards Cavalry Division before it was driven back by 214th ID. 7th Guard Cavalry Corps had to fight its way back to the Turiya, with one regiment encircled for a week plus. Meanwhile, the Germans launched Operation Ilse on 4/27 and destroyed the Soviet Turiya Bridgehead SW of Kovel. 214th ID also launched attacks against the left flank of 69th Army. The Germans forced the Turiya in several places SW of Kovel, but stiffening Soviet resistance led them to call off any exploitation and withdraw from the bridgeheads in the first week of May.

Both fronts made their initial plans with a focus on where the front was still unstable and hadn't fully "firmed up" in late April-early May. There weren't any significant operations planned for their shared wings.

When 1st Ukrainian Front's focus did shift further north in late-June, 1st Belorussian Front's focus was to the NW towards its right wing. 2nd Tank Army and 8th Guards Army would strike to the NW in the Siedlce-Brest area, and a plan for an attack towards Lublin and up the Vistula (as ended up happening) was rejected.

It wasn't until late on 7/21, 4 days into the Lublin-Brest Operation, that 2nd Tank Army was ordered to take Lublin by 7/26-27. This was explicitly for political reasons and had nothing to do with the advances of 1st Ukrainian Front.

Zhukov was theoretically the Stavka coordinator of the 1st Belorussian Front's left wing and 1st Ukrainian Front. But interaction between the two was minimal, just making sure their wings stayed in contact. Something resembling a joint plan of operation wasn't proposed by Zhukov until early August. According to his memoirs, he spent this time sending proposals thinking about how the 3 Belorussian front's could launch an offensive against East Prussia with reinforcements.

Even during the first days of the operations, Zhukov did very little to coordinate the two fronts and his attention seems to have been elsewhere. Which is a shame, as 4th Panzer Army's LVI Panzer and XXXXII Army Corps could certainly have been destroyed with someone more attentive coordinating the two fronts from July 20-25th.

The pairing of the two operations which popped up in Soviet historiography in the 50s-60s (not sure exactly where) is IMO more post facto than reflective of contemporary plans.

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 03 Jul 2023 06:54

On 6/22 the left wing armies (70, 69, and 47) needed 4,700 replacements to bring their divisions up to 6,000 men. In July the left received even more men, over 18,000 to 8th Guards Army alone.

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view ... vki:drugie

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 03 Jul 2023 16:41

The idea is to look at what evidence is out there. One of the reasons for looking at this operation in particular is that it was thought about for a long time but the plans kept on changing as other events moved on. So this tells us something about the planning process at Stavka.

1) Gosudarstvennyĭ Komitet Oborony postanovli͡aet (1941-1945): T͡Sifry, dokumenty [Gorkov Yu. A. The State Defense Committee decides (1941-1945): Figures, documents.] (Moscow: OLMA-Press, 2002), http://prussia.online/books/gosudarstve ... tanovlyaet.

командующий генерал армии К. К. Рокоссовский

9 March 1944
26 March 1944
7 November 1944

2) Seweryn Bialer, Stalin and His Generals Soviet Military Memoirs of World War Ii. (New York, N.Y.: Pegasus, 1969), https://archive.org/details/stalinhisge ... 7/mode/2up.

Planning Conference in May 1944 to discuss the 'one or two armed attack' for Operation Bagration

3) S. M Shtemenko, Generalʹnyĭ shtab v gody voĭny [General staff during the war.], 1st ed., 2 vols (Moskva: Voenizdat, 1968).
http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/shtemenko/12.html

Prior to 14 April
The issue of strengthening the Belorussian Front was also considered. Previously, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief asked for the opinion of a number of front commanders on this matter and had a personal conversation with some of them on the HF. Such a conversation took place, in particular, with the commander of the Belarusian (later the 1st Belorussian) Front, Army General K.K. Rokossovsky, whose troops were in the Bobruisk direction. Rokossovsky spoke in favor of transferring to him from the 1st Ukrainian Front the armies that ended up in Polesie and near Kovel. In his opinion, this was supposed to improve interaction and maneuver during the offensive in the Bobruisk and Lublin directions. After a very critical analysis of all the pros and cons, the Stavka agreed with him. At the same time, it was decided to include the 2th Army from the 50st Belorussian Front in the 1nd Belorussian Front. Colonel-General I. D. Chernyakhovsky (3rd Belorussian) and Colonel-General I. E. Petrov were appointed to command the new fronts. The distribution between them of rifle divisions, artillery, tanks, aviation and all military property of the former Western Front was to be carried out with the participation of a representative of the Stavka.

April
The operation was going to be difficult. According to the commander K. K. Rokossovsky, it could not be carried out simultaneously by all the forces of the front, since the enemy's defense east of Minsk was very stable and it was reckless to break through it head-on. Therefore, it was proposed to carry out the operation in two stages. At the first (lasting up to 12 days), the forces of the four armies of the left wing of the front had to cut down the stability of the enemy defense from the south. To do this, it was planned to defeat the opposing enemy and seize positions along the eastern bank of the Western Bug River in the area from Brest to Vladimir-Volynsky, thus bypassing the right flank of Army Group Center. At the second stage, simultaneous actions of all the troops of the front to defeat the Bobruisk and Minsk groups of the enemy were already conceived. Relying on the captured positions along the Western Bug and securing their left flank from counterattacks from the west and northwest, the left-flank armies of the front were to break through to the enemy's rear to Kobrin, Slonim, and Stolbtsy with the main forces from the Brest region. At the same time, a second blow would be delivered - by the right wing of the front from the Rogachev, Zhlobin area in the general direction of Bobruisk, Minsk. It took at least 30 days to complete these tasks, taking into account the regroupings. The success of the bypass maneuver was guaranteed only if the bypassing left wing of the front was strengthened by one or two tank armies.

Such a plan was of considerable interest and served as an example of an original solution to an offensive task on a very wide front. The front commander was faced with very difficult issues of directing the actions of the troops in the directions separated by Polesie. The General Staff even thought about whether to divide the 1st Belorussian Front into two in this regard. However, K. K. Rokossovsky was able to prove that actions according to a single plan and with a single front command in the area are more expedient. He had no doubt that in this case Polesie would turn out to be a factor not separating the actions of the troops, but uniting them.

Unfortunately, the Stavka did not have the opportunity, in the current situation, to allocate and concentrate the necessary forces and means, especially tank armies, in the Kovel area. Therefore, the extremely interesting plan of K. K. Rokossovsky was not implemented. However, the very idea of the direction of strikes and the sequence of actions of the troops, due to [175] the huge array of forests and swamps that largely divided the 1st Belorussian Front, was used by the Operational Directorate of the General Staff in the subsequent planning of operations.

11 May
K. K. Rokossovsky and his staff sorted everything out and reported to us their thoughts by May 11. The purpose of the operation for the 1st Belorussian Front, they considered the defeat of the Zhlobin group of the Nazis, and in the future - the development of success in Bobruisk, Osipovichi, Minsk. At the same time, the main forces of the front inflicted not one, but two simultaneous strikes of equal power: the first - along the eastern bank of the Berezina River with access to Bobruisk, the second - along the western bank, bypassing Bobruisk from the south. The use of two main blows of equal strength, firstly, disoriented the enemy, was sudden for him, and secondly, deprived him of the opportunity to counteract our offensive with the help of maneuver. Auxiliary actions were planned in the direction of Slutsk, Baranovichi.

Rokossovsky attached particular importance to the continuity of the offensive. In order to exclude tactical, and in the future, operational pauses, it was assumed already on the 3rd day of the operation, when the tactical defense of the Germans had just been broken, to introduce the 3th Panzer Corps in the zone of the 9rd Army to develop success in the Bobruisk direction. When the 3rd and 48th armies approached the Berezina River, at the junction between them, it was planned to launch a fresh 28th army with the task of seizing the city of Bobruisk and continuing the offensive on Osipovichi, Minsk.

22 and 23 May at Stavka
At the Headquarters, the plan was discussed on May 22 and 23 with the participation of G. K. Zhukov, A. M. Vasilevsky, commander of the troops of the 1st Baltic Front I. H. Bagramyan, commander of the 1st Belorussian Front K. K. Rokossovsky, members of the military councils of the same fronts, as well as A. A. Novikov, N. N. Voronov, N. D. Yakovlev, A. V. Khrulev, M. P. Vorobyov, I. T. Peresypkin and employees of the General Staff headed by A. I. Antonov. I. D. Chernyakhovsky was absent due to illness. I. E. Petrov, as acting in the auxiliary direction, was not summoned to the Headquarters.

4) K. K. Rokossovsky, Soldatsky Dolg [Soldier’s duty.] (Moskva, 1997) http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/rokossovsky/18.html

Soon followed by a directive from the General Headquarters on the transfer to our front of the entire sector covering Polesie from the south, and the troops stationed on it. The total width of the strip of the 1st Belorussian Front thus reached almost 900 kilometers. Rarely during the Great Patriotic War, a front that had an offensive mission occupied a strip of such length. Of course, we also have more troops. By the twentieth of June, our front consisted of ten combined-arms, one tank, two air armies and the Dnieper river flotilla; In addition, we had three tank, one mechanized and three cavalry corps.

As a result of the redeployment of forces, the 2nd Belorussian Front became our neighbor on the right. Then there were further changes, until the structure of the fronts was formed, which was preserved until the victorious end of the war.

According to the plan of the Stavka, the main actions in the summer campaign of 1944 were to unfold in Belarus. To carry out this operation, troops of four fronts were involved (1st Baltic - commander I. H. Bagramyan; 3rd Belorussian - commander I. D. Chernyakhovsky; our right neighbor, the 2nd Belorussian Front - commander I. E. Petrov, and, finally, the 1st Belorussian). The Headquarters found it possible to acquaint the front commanders with the planned, strategic operation in its full scale. And it was right. Knowing the general plan, the front commander had the opportunity to better understand the task of his troops and to take the initiative more widely.

Before the transition to the offensive of this group of fronts, it was supposed to carry out successive operations arising from one another: first the Leningrad Front, then the Karelian Front, then the main Belorussian operation and, finally, the operation of the 1st Ukrainian Front.

Finally, the offensive plan was worked out at the Headquarters on May 22 and 23. Our ideas about the offensive of the troops of the left wing of the front in the Lublin direction were approved, but the decision on two strikes on the right wing was criticized. The Supreme Commander-in-Chief and his deputies insisted on delivering one main blow - from the bridgehead on the Dnieper (Rogachev region), which was in the hands of the 3rd Army. Twice I was asked to go into the next room to think over the proposal of the Stavka. After each such "thinking" I had to defend my decision with renewed vigor. Convinced that I firmly insisted on our point of view, Stalin approved the plan of operation in the form in which we presented it.
--------------------------------------------

The time has come to move forward the troops of our left wing. Our forces here were as follows: five combined-arms armies, an air army, and from mobile formations - a tank army and two cavalry corps{3}. From the first days of July, the regrouping of front-line reinforcements from the right wing to the left began.

We inquisitively studied data about the enemy and the terrain. Recently, there have been no changes in the position and behavior of enemy troops. Nevertheless, a somewhat unusual decision was made: the advanced battalions to launch an offensive by reconnaissance in force. We wanted to make sure that the enemy did not pull the main forces to the line located in the depths, leaving only cover in front of us. In that case, it would have forced us to waste the ammunition intended to break through the main defenses.

An interesting detail. At one time, we worked with Commanders Popov, Gusev, Chuikov and Kolpakchi on the question of how best to launch an offensive. It was then that the idea came to apply, if I may say so, a combined technique - to begin reconnaissance of the advanced battalions and, if we make sure that the main forces of the enemy remained at the same line, to move into battle all the planned forces and means without interruption to clarify the tasks.

So, the battalions began the battle. We, a small group of generals who were at the forward observation post on July 18 (the main command post of the front was in Radoshin), clearly saw their actions. Supported by heavy artillery fire and escorted by tanks, they quickly moved to enemy positions. The Germans opened heavy artillery fire. Our planes attacked enemy artillery[266] and mortar positions in small groups. They were met in the air by enemy fighters, who put into action all new firepower.

Our riflemen and individual tanks in some places managed to break into the first trenches, the Battle was gaining strength every minute. It became quite clear that we met with the main line of defense. You can't wait any longer. The command was given to proceed with the implementation of the offensive plan.

General Kazakov orders to open fire. The air was shaken by volleys of guns of all calibers ...

The offensive of the left wing of the front was a continuation of the operation that began in the Bobruisk direction. But this did not mean the cessation of action on the right wing. There, the troops continued to advance, advancing towards the Brest fortified area. It was very important. At this stage, the decisive direction for us was Kovel, and the successful outcome here was largely ensured by the fact that the main reserves of the enemy were thrown into the defense of Brest.

The 47th, 8th Guards and 69th armies were given the task of breaking through the enemy's front west of Kovel. Having made a breakthrough, the combined-arms armies were to bring tank formations and cavalry corps into battle and, in cooperation with them, develop an offensive on Siedlec and Lublin. The 6th Air Army, which supported the ground forces, had 1465 aircraft.

On July 18, in the morning, our units broke through the enemy defenses on the front of 30 kilometers and advanced 13 kilometers. By July 20, the strike groups of the left wing reached the Western Bug and, having crossed it in three places, entered the territory of Poland.

The battle that unfolded in July on the left wing of the 1st Belorussian Front and the offensive of the troops of our neighbor on the left, the 1st Ukrainian Front, which began a week earlier, resulted in a harmonious interaction of the two fronts on adjacent flanks. Our success was greatly facilitated by the fact that, while advancing, the 1st Ukrainian Front deprived the enemy of the opportunity to reinforce its forces in the Lublin direction; in the same way, our fighting did not allow the enemy to transfer its troops against the 1st Ukrainian Front. This operation, which followed from the Belorussian one, was planned in advance by the Stavka. [267]

The grandiose offensive of the Soviet troops, in which five fronts participated in July, led to the defeat of the German fascist army groups "Center" (4, 9, 2, 3rd Panzer Army) and "Northern Ukraine" (4th and 1st Panzer Armies, 1st Hungarian Army). Over a huge distance, the enemy defenses were broken.

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 03 Jul 2023 21:03

In April, 1st Ukrainian Front's plan for the offensive was more or less a continuation of where its forces were in mid-April. They would attack north and south of the Dniester into Galicia from the SE.

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=100588414

Here's a map of the fighting S of the Dniester, from Moskalenko's memoirs:

http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/mos ... -2/s13.gif

By 5/5 the front had moved an army HQ (18th) S of the Dniester and its plan for an offensive on L'viv called for a second tank army there:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=100180799

As late as 6/19, 1st Ukrainian Front's main blow was still directed south of the Dniester:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=100180607

Moskalenko has a good map:

http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/mos ... -2/s15.gif

The front's final plan, from 7/7, with 1st Guards Tank Army now transferred from S of the Dniester to E of Sokal:

http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/mos ... -2/s14.gif

And the final course of the operation:

http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/mos ... -2/s16.jpg
Last edited by Vasilyev on 03 Jul 2023 21:41, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 03 Jul 2023 21:06

For the Kovel operation, there material is a bit sparser for April. Here, we have Rokossovsky's meeting with Stalin for 1 hour 10 minutes on 4/24, likely to discuss the operation:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/7/zoom/4

Rokossovsky's operations department chief, Boikov, was closely involved in planning these operations. Boikov was also in Moscow with Rokossovsky, as (among other things) his deputy signs the front's operational summaries instead of him from 4/22-24.

The front's war diary for June notes that Rokossovsky was in Moscow for meetings until 4/26:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=211326081

It's possible that the Bobruisk plan was discussed in the back half of the trip after Rokossovsky met with Stalin to pitch the Kovel plan on 4/24, from 4/25-26:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=152333091

The front's war diary also says that planning for the Bobruisk operation only began in early May, on 5/4, with the first plan submitted to the general staff on 5/12 based on previous proposals from March-April:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=211326081

Which largely matches memoirs like Zhukov which put Stalin's final decision "at the end of April".

Kovel planning shows up next on this map produced by Boikov and Rokossovsky from 5/22-23, on their trip to the late-May General Staff conference in Moscow. It's the first map of the Kovel operation I've found, and it closely matches Shtemenko's description from April:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=135005000

The "big meeting" probably took place a bit later than when the memoirs recall, likely on the evening of 5/26 according to Stalin's visitors log:

Molotov 21:00–02: 30

Voroshilov 21:00–01: 30

Beria 21:00–01:30

Malenkov 21:00–01:30

Zhukov 21:00–01:30

Vasilevskiy 21:00–01:30

Antonov 21:00–01:30

Shtemenko 21:00–01:30

Rokossovsky 21:00–01:30

Bulganin 21:00–01:30

Chernyakhovsky 21:00–01:30

Makarov 21:00–01:30

Bagramyan 21:00–01:30

Leonov 21:00–01:30

Petrov 21:00–01:30

Mekhlis 21:00–01:30

Voronov 21:45–00:30

Yakovlev GAU 21:45–00:30

Khrulev 23:10–23:20

Novikov 23:20–00:30

Fedorenko 23:45–00:30

Vorobiev 00:20–00:30

Khrulev 00:45–01:30

Voronov 00:50–01:30

Novikov 00:50–01: 30

Yakovlev 00:50–01: 30

Vorobiev 00:50–01: 30

Drachev 00:50–01: 30

Kolesov 00:50–01: 30

Aginsky 00:55–01: 30

Mikoyan 02:30–02:30

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... /10/zoom/3

On 6/20 (after a significant break planning the Bobruisk operation!), Rokossovsky's front presents an anomalous Kovel plan which doesn't have an immediately apparent precursor - an attack through Lublin and up the Vistula, much further west than prior proposals. Though it will be rejected, this plan closely matches the course of the front's actual attack in July:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=112905581

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=112905580

Boikov doesn't sign for a day, but that's because Rokossovsky and his staff were bouncing around different army command posts to make sure everything was in order before the operation starts. Rokossovsky doesn't mention in his memoirs if Boikov joined the staff group which left the front HQ at Ovruch to supervise the Bobruisk operation. That seems much more likely than a solo trip!

Zhukov was constantly in Ovruch and Gomel during this period anyway, so a trip to Moscow would be superfluous. A map of the revised version of the Kovel operation was produced from 6/23-24, with the attack now directed at Brest:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136685764

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136685763

Finally, the July 11th plan after the Germans withdraw from Kovel from July 5-9th. The main attack is still directed at Brest:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136685765

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=112905582

This is the plan which the front initially carries out for the "Lublin-Brest" operation, though there are changes made even before the 7/21 order to take Lublin.

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 04 Jul 2023 08:14

Der Alte Fritz wrote:
03 Jul 2023 16:41
One of the reasons for looking at this operation in particular is that it was thought about for a long time but the plans kept on changing as other events moved on. So this tells us something about the planning process at Stavka.
For the first period of the planning, late March up to May 4th, I think a few different factors influenced the plans of the Front.

While the Rogachev-Zhlobin operation created opportunities for future operations, overall the first Bobruisk offensive by 3rd, 48th, and 65th Army was a failure. The Kovel area presented the opportunity to avoid a frontal attack against what had proven to be very tough positions.

On 3/26 the Germans had again failed to relieve the besieged town of Kovel, but the Red Army had also failed to take it. On 3/30 a small group of tanks from 5th SS broke through to the town, which was immediately noticed by 47th Army and 2nd Belorussian Front. 70th Army's advance to the NW had also been stymied by LVI Panzer Corps, newly transferred to the right wing of 2nd Army. But by April 2nd the Germans had also failed to make further progress.

Rokossovsky pitched the idea of subordinating the armies of 2nd BelF to his own as a single united Belorussian Front at the end of March. Stalin approved this a few days later.

2nd BelF was given objectives beyond its means and was rushed into the operation before it was ready. Now it fаced German reserves and had failed to make further progress. Even if it wasn't explicitly said, Rokossovsky's pitch came with the implication that he could improve the situation.

On April 5th the Germans - LVI Panzer Corps under 2nd Army, AG Center - broke through to Kovel just as Rokossovksy assumed command. The 69th Army had just finished its transport by rail and now had to march to close the gap between the 47th Army's left wing along the upper reaches of the Turiya River to the 1st Ukrainian Front. It wouldn't fully deploy until the back half of April.

47 A and the Kovel area when Rokossovsky takes command:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=100945510

So, Rokossovsky had to deal with continued German attacks to widen the corridor to Kovel with what he had on hand:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=100596725

The newly arrived 7th Guards Cavalry Corps was able to partly fill the gap, threatening Volodymyr with its 16th Cavalry Division on 4/12 before 214th ID and armored reinforcements forced it to retreat back to the Turiya. The Corps also extended 47th Army's right wing to the Turiya's bend, with 14th Cavalry Division advancing two regiments across the river on 4/10-12. But German counterattacks on 4/13-15 drove the rest of 7th GCC back across the Turiya, save for 54th Cavalry Regiment (14 GCD) which was encircled for another 2 weeks.

Rokossovsky moved his headquarters to Ovruch on 4/12 to better supervise the left wing. Planning for a future offensive had been ongoing since 4/2.

The Germans continued to attack 47th Army's bridgehead SW of Kovel through 4/17. They were unable to reduce the bridgehead but did widen the corridor to Kovel. By 4/20 the Germans still needed to launch another offensive - what would become Operation Ilse -to eliminate the bridgehead, otherwise supply to Kovel wouldn't be sustainable:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=100494095

At the same time, from 4/14-17 the German 214th ID launches attacks against 69th Army's left neighbor, 18th Army. It pushed through its screens along the Turiya and greatly expanded the German position over the river and in 1st Belorussian Front's rear. The area NE of Volodymyr was secondary for 1st BelF and 1st UkrF, but it factored prominently in Army Group North Ukraine's offensive plans, operation "Sword and Shield".

On 4/17 the Front was formally ordered to switch to defense after a meeting between Stalin and the General Staff on 4/15:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... lya-1944-g

Stalin was hesitant to approve this and thought it over for a day first. On 4/23 forces were transferred from the Coastal Army to 2nd BelF, now E of Mogilev. By this point an offensive in Belarus is certain, it's more a question of nailing down the rest of the outline.

By the time Rokossovsky made his trip to Moscow on 4/22 the front had (mostly) started to settle and 69th Army and other reinforcements were gradually moving into place. That leads to a relatively optimistic presentation to the General Staff and Stalin on the merits of an offensive from the Kovel region.

But on 4/27 the Germans launch Operation Ilse with 253rd ID, 131st ID, and 5th SS. 125th Rifle Corps was hit hard and thrown back to the banks of the Turiya; then across it. 47th Army's commander is removed. Both 47th A and 125th RC are criticized for failing to properly prepare the defense. The bridgehead SW of Kovel is eliminated by 4/28 and the city can be supplied. The Germans also seized small bridgeheads over the Turiya, which they held into the first days of May. But stiffening Soviet resistance and heavy losses brought an end to any further counterattacks.

4th Panzer Army's XXXXII Corps tried to resume the advance from its bridgehead into the rear of 69th Army from 4/26-30. Its attempts to cut off the Soviet salient in cooperation with LVI Panzer Corps were unsuccessful and costly:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=100426252

Reinforcements aside, the setbacks Rokossovsky's front faced from 4/27-5/3 must have influenced Stalin's final decision which he made during this period. You also had the poor performance of the 2nd Soviet offensive in Romania on 5/2-5. The decision was probably made before 5/1 and the May Day announcement of the Red Army's tasks.

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 04 Jul 2023 08:39

The 1st Ukrainian Front's 6/26 plan for the offensive, in response to Stavka Directive No. 220152 from 6/24:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/1/zoom/4

The General Staff probably ordered the change between the 6/19 plan with a focus S of the Dniester and the 6/24 directive in response to an argument between Stalin and Konev, according to his memoirs. Konev and Stalin met in Moscow on 6/20 and 6/22:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... /12/zoom/4

Twice in May-June, 1944, Stalin disagreed with front commanders about striking "multiple" blows vs one powerful blow, criticizing their proposals as striking with an open hand instead of a fist.

Is there something in doctrinal disputes (like about echeloning, discussed below) which gives some context to what kind of strike is the "proper" one?

viewtopic.php?f=79&t=223635&p=2454829#p2454829

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 04 Jul 2023 09:29

The Kovel operations began with this directive on 3/4:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... rta-1944-g

Which set 2 Belorussian Front's goals as Kovel, Brest, and the Bug river, with the start of the offensive scheduled for 3/12-14.

At the same time, the 1st Ukrainian Front's Dubno-Brody operation on 3/14 sent its right wing 13th Army to the SW, divering from the Kovel operation. The Stavka directed the Front to focus its blow to the S-SW on 3/11:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/1/zoom/4

So from the start the two fronts are directed to attack in diverging directions. This opens up a gap between them E-NE of Volodymyr in the second half of March which is filled in mid-April.

1st Ukrainian Front's plan from March 25th for the L'viv offensive also had an offensive S of the Dniester by 1st Guards Army and 1st Guards Tank Army:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/2/zoom/4

The objectives here are the closest to simply continuing the offensive with minimal regrouping. This plan was approved on 3/28:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/1/zoom/4

The Front wasn't directed to the defensive until 4/17:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... lya-1944-g

Which underscores the importance of the 4/15 General Staff meeting with Stalin that Shtemenko describes. Stalin was considering continuing the general offensive in multiple directions (Romania, Galicia, Belarus, Pskov), with 2nd Baltic Front asking to be put on the defensive for 5-6 days on 4/14:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/2/zoom/4

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 05 Jul 2023 03:46

The second stage of planning for the Kovel operation ran from 5/4 to 7/5, when the Germans withdrew from Kovel and the Front's plans had to be revised.

In this period, planning for the Bobruisk operation from 5/4-26 takes up most of the Front's time. Kovel planning shows up next on this map produced by Boikov and Rokossovsky from 5/22-23, on their trip to the late-May General Staff conference in Moscow. As I said before, this largely matches what was already planned in April:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=135005000

When the Moscow General Staff conference ends on 5/26, the final directive for the Bobruisk operation (and Bagration in general) is issued by the General Staff on 5/31:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... aya-1944-g

Even before that, reinforcements like 28th Army were ordered to 1st BelF on the morning of 5/27.

Early on 5/26, any further offensive in Romania by 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Front were postponed indefinitely:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/1/zoom/4

So we can see that during and by the end of the late-May conference on 5/26 all Fronts are put on the defensive and the plan for the Belorussian operation is finalized. At the same time, orders are issued to begin transferring reinforcements to the Front's left wing to bring it up to strength for Rokossovksy's Kovel offensive from 5/27 to 6/26.

From May 10-23rd 8th Guards Army was fighting to hold its bridgehead over the Dniester against German counterattacks. It suffered heavy losses and was transferred to the Stavka reserve on 5/27. It was withdrawn from the bridgehead from 5/28 to 6/2, after which it was transferred to 1st Belorussian Front on 6/10 and completed its movement to the front's rear east of Kovel by 6/21:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136691197

2nd Tank Army was also ordered to begin moving to regroup on 6/10, to be ready for transfer to 1st Belorussian Front by 6/14. From 5/31 to 6/8 it had been involved in helping fight off German counterattacks N of Iasi, Operations "Sonja" and Katja". The army finished concentrating on 6/26:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=133034726

Both armies focused their training on operations in swampy/wooded terrain, which Zhukov re-emphasized to 2 TA on 7/2. This was to prepare for operations on the Kovel-Brest direction.

Rokossovsky's time in late May/early June is spent preparing his final operational plan for Bobruisk, which is approved by Zhukov on 6/7 and sent to his armies on 6/8. For the next 15 days most of his time was spent preparing for the operation, which is delayed on 6/14 from 6/20 to 6/24.

In early June, Konev is asked over the phone to prepare а plan for an offensive in the Lviv direction. He pushes for an attack from the area east of Sokal by 1st Guards Tank Army, which becomes the plan after he meets with Stalin in Moscow June 20-22 to make his case.

On 6/20, Rokossovsky's front presents a Kovel plan which proposes an attack through Lublin and up the Vistula, much further west than prior proposals:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=112905581

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=112905580

I don't know what spurred this change, but it ends up being rejected. A map of the revised version of the Kovel operation was produced from 6/23-24, with the attack now directed at Brest:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136685764

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136685763

Though the planning for the operations occurs at the same time, they are directed to attack in diverging directions. The attack on Lviv would have been even further separated, had Stalin and the General Staff gotten their way instead of Konev. So, I don't think Lublin-Brest can be described as coordinated with the attack on Lviv. In this form it was a continuation of the Belorussian offensive. While the two offensives complimented each other, they were entirely separate operations going in different directions. A focus on Lublin was rejected at this point.

No further directives were issued prior to the German withdrawal on 7/5, other than to conduct reconnaissance in force:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=211326082

1st BelF was caught off guard by the withdrawal from Kovel and pursued the Germans ineffectively. Its staff was largely away from its HQ up to 6/30 and it remained focused on the Minsk-Baranovichi fighting up to 7/5. It still needed to transfer significant artillery reinforcements from its right wing, which would take another 10 days to fully concentrate.

To sum this period up, the General Staff began planning an offensive in western Ukraine immediately after it finalized its plans for Belarus from 5/27-5/31. In early June plans were solicited from 1st Ukrainian Front, which it discusses in Moscow from 6/20-22. Plans are likely solicited from 1st Belorussian Front. For unknown reasons, Rokossovsky submits a proposal on 6/20 for an attack through Lublin and up the Vistula. The General Staff doesn't agree and instead he submits a more ambitious version of the April-May plan on 6/23-24, aiming for Brest. At the same time, 1st Ukrainian Front gets its way and plans for a strong offensive from the area E of Sokal as well as E of Lviv.

The planning process for this version of the two operations is linked and I can't imagine that their interaction was ignored. They're complimentary by virtue of geography, but there isn't any coordination between them nor does the General Staff seem interested in that. 1st Belorussian Front's attack is directly linked with the offensive in Belarus and its previous Kovel plans, while 1st Ukrainian Front's offensive is a refinement of the plans it and the General Staff shared for a Lviv offensive since March. The General Staff continued to support offensives by the two Fronts in diverging directions, as it had since March.

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 05 Jul 2023 23:38

KF Telegin, a member of the 1st Belorussian Front's military council, had this to say in his memoirs:
The first version of the plan presented by the command of our front, like the plan of the command of the 1st Ukrainian, provided for the use of a large number of tank forces and for this reason was rejected by the Stavka , which did not have the possibility of introducing the requested number of tank formations into the flank. These plans are detailed in specialized literature, and I will not repeat their contents here, since they were not carried out.

However, nothing passes without a trace. The inability to allocate the required number of tank troops almost put our front under the threat of a new division into two independent formations. There was a connection here. From the point of view of the staff of the General Staff, the enormous stretch of our front line could only be justified by the possibility of carrying out a deep enveloping strike, requiring, as already mentioned, significant tank forces. And since the plan for this enveloping strike itself was not approved, then the need for such an extended front seemed to disappear by itself.

But only the persistence of K.K. Rokossovsky prevented the implementation of such a decision. The commander, defending the indivisibility of the front, proceeded from the uniqueness of local geographical conditions, the presence of truly impassable zones, and the absence, in connection with this, of the possibility of using a large number of troops in one chosen direction. He argued that it was precisely the presence in the front of two groupings of troops stationed on the distant flanks that made it possible to turn the disadvantages of the terrain into advantages that helped to strike at once in several unexpected directions. At the same time, according to the calculations of the commander, the attacked enemy troops will lose the ability to maneuver with reserves in swampy areas. In turn, in the current situation, our troops are capable of seizing the operational initiative with comparatively small forces, introducing complete disorganization into enemy command and control with strikes on a broad front.

As we later learned, around the second half of April, all proposals regarding the conduct of the summer campaign were brought together in the General Staff.

[...]

At this time, our northern neighbors and our front were supposed to enter the affair.

After rejection of our proposed offensive with a large number of tanks, the Military Council again began to look for a solution based on the effective use of reserves. At the beginning of May, the General Staff again requested our considerations, informing us that the 28th Army and the 9th Tank Corps would be transferred to the front for reinforcement from the Stavka reserve. After this, the help of the Stavka should be considered exhausted.

Now that the sequence of operations of the fronts and our capabilities had been determined with sufficient completeness, an intense search was launched for a new, reliable operational solution [on the Bobruisk direction].

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Art » 07 Jul 2023 17:29

Vasilyev wrote:
05 Jul 2023 03:46
The planning process for this version of the two operations is linked and I can't imagine that their interaction was ignored. They're complimentary by virtue of geography, but there isn't any coordination between them nor does the General Staff seem interested in that. 1st Belorussian Front's attack is directly linked with the offensive in Belarus and its previous Kovel plans, while 1st Ukrainian Front's offensive is a refinement of the plans it and the General Staff shared for a Lviv offensive since March. The General Staff continued to support offensives by the two Fronts in diverging directions, as it had since March.
I believe there was coordinated timing, i.e. both operations started about the same time with an interval of only several days, which was hardly a coincidence.


Below is a sketch based on planning maps of the GenStaff from 4 April and 30 May 1944 (from "Voyennaya strategiya" by S.N. Mikhalev). You can see that both operations appeared on the planning table at the same time by the end of May
Mikhalev.png
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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 15 Jul 2023 01:05

I have been wading through the mass of material, which is excellent, by the way and found the whole planning process fascinating. Its clear that both Front and Stavka were far more flexible and adroit than many writers give them credit for as the plans change in reaction to events. You have done very well to find and sort those Pamyat Naroda maps, the larger ones lose all their text.

You are absolutely right that much of the planning in April, May and early June is about a strike northwards by the left hand side of 1 Belorussian Front. At the same time the Ukrainian Fronts are operating in different directions.

The other evidence that we have about Stavka's focus being to the north is the successful completion of the liberation of the Crimea in May by 4 Ukrainian Front and the subsequent transfer of 2 Guards, 51 Armies and 19 Tank Corps to the Baltic. Such cross country transfers were very rare.

Its after Operation Bagration was launched on 22 June that the assessment changes as 1) The Germans collapse in Belorussia 2) the Ukrainian Fronts are able to develop their advance north-westwards. As you have shown Rossovsky produces the idea of a western advance on 20 June which though rejected in favour of going northwards.

So the thesis is that the collapse of Army Group Centre prompts the idea of a western strike that left half of 1 Belorussian Front and the launch of the L'vov-Peremyshi Operation

Sbornik materialov No.22 (L'vov-Peremyshl' Operation) states that it would not have taken place unless Operation Bagration was successful. Also it states that planning started on 24 June with three tank armies, (1,3,4) and two cavalry-mechanised groups. With 5 Gd Tank Army in Belorussia, that leaves just 2 Tank Army. Also it states in the introduction that the series of operations was 'a series of consecutive strategic operations developed along the front and into the depth. A single concept and the leadership of Stavka united all of these operations.' So it is quite clear that the L'vov operation was linked to the Belorussian one

This text is published late 1945 or Jan/Feb 1946 with a more detailed study on 3 Tank Army in No.16 published Jan 1945. It is published every two months so that makes No.22 around Jan/Feb 1946. So this is not later re-writing of history, rather being a contemporary assessment, being part of the 'Experience of War' series of learning lessons from the battlefield.

Have you found any materiel between 20 June and 14 July on this subject? I think that may be the key period in the evolution of the Brest-Lublin operation planning.

Post No.6 has two broken links:
For the Kovel operation, there material is a bit sparser for April. Here, we have Rokossovsky's meeting with Stalin for 1 hour 10 minutes on 4/24, likely to discuss the operation:
http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/7/zoom/4
Rokossovsky's operations department chief, Boikov, was closely involved in planning these operations. Boikov was
Aginsky 00:55–01: 30

Mikoyan 02:30–02:30

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... /10/zoom/3

On 6/20 (after a significant break planning the Bobruisk operation!), Rokossovsky's front presents an anomalous

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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 16 Jul 2023 04:22

Der Alte Fritz wrote:
15 Jul 2023 01:05
Its after Operation Bagration was launched on 22 June that the assessment changes as 1) The Germans collapse in Belorussia 2) the Ukrainian Fronts are able to develop their advance north-westwards. As you have shown Rossovsky produces the idea of a western advance on 20 June which though rejected in favour of going northwards.

So the thesis is that the collapse of Army Group Centre prompts the idea of a western strike that left half of 1 Belorussian Front and the launch of the L'vov-Peremyshi Operation

Sbornik materialov No.22 (L'vov-Peremyshl' Operation) states that it would not have taken place unless Operation Bagration was successful. Also it states that planning started on 24 June with three tank armies, (1,3,4) and two cavalry-mechanised groups. With 5 Gd Tank Army in Belorussia, that leaves just 2 Tank Army. Also it states in the introduction that the series of operations was 'a series of consecutive strategic operations developed along the front and into the depth. A single concept and the leadership of Stavka united all of these operations.' So it is quite clear that the L'vov operation was linked to the Belorussian one

This text is published late 1945 or Jan/Feb 1946 with a more detailed study on 3 Tank Army in No.16 published Jan 1945. It is published every two months so that makes No.22 around Jan/Feb 1946. So this is not later re-writing of history, rather being a contemporary assessment, being part of the 'Experience of War' series of learning lessons from the battlefield.

Have you found any materiel between 20 June and 14 July on this subject? I think that may be the key period in the evolution of the Brest-Lublin operation planning.

Post No.6 has two broken links:
For the Kovel operation, there material is a bit sparser for April. Here, we have Rokossovsky's meeting with Stalin for 1 hour 10 minutes on 4/24, likely to discuss the operation:
http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/7/zoom/4
Rokossovsky's operations department chief, Boikov, was closely involved in planning these operations. Boikov was
Aginsky 00:55–01: 30

Mikoyan 02:30–02:30

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... /10/zoom/3

On 6/20 (after a significant break planning the Bobruisk operation!), Rokossovsky's front presents an anomalous
Thank you! I'm putting together a post on the final planning period and the first days of the operation where several more changes were made.

Zhukov had a comment on sequencing during his 1960s interviews with Konstantin Simonov:
At the beginning of the war - speaking in this way, in this sense I mark the Battle of Stalingrad as a milestone - it happened that, while listening to reports, he sometimes made remarks indicating an elementary misunderstanding of the situation and insufficient knowledge of military affairs.

So, for example, it happened when in the summer of 1942 I had to report to him on the Western Front about the operation connected with the capture of Pogorely Gorodishche. I reported to him about the application of two blows: on the right - the main one, on the left - auxiliary. To the right of the map was a large, deep red arrow, to the left a small one. Drawing attention to this second arrow, he asked:

"And what is this?"

I had to explain that a small arrow means an auxiliary blow.

"What auxiliary blow? Why the hell should we scatter forces? We need to concentrate them in one place, and not scatter them."

I had to report how this auxiliary strike was conceived by me, that by striking in two places, we must create uncertainty for the enemy in which of them the main blow is delivered, we must bind part of his reserves in the direction of our auxiliary strike so that he does not have time to maneuver them when on the second day of the operation he discovers where we really strike the main blow.

Although my explanation seemed to be convincing, he was not satisfied with it. I continued to prove myself.

In the end, he did not agree with my arguments, he said:

"You will not be persuaded. You are the commander of the front and are responsible for this."

I had to answer that I understand that I am the commander of the front, and I am ready to take full responsibility for what I propose.

That was the end of that conversation, quite typical of the first period of the war.

Subsequently, in the second period, when the plans for the operation were being discussed, Stalin, on the contrary, more than once posed the question himself: is it possible to strike another auxiliary blow, to demonstrate, to pull apart the forces of the enemy's reserve? It was with this much deeper understanding of these issues that the planning of a whole series of successive strikes on different fronts, in particular the so-called "Stalin's ten strikes" of 1944, was connected in the future.
Shtemenko says:
G. K. Zhukov, appointed by that time to the post of commander of the 1st Ukrainian Front, instead of the deceased N. F. Vatutin, also sent his thoughts on further offensive actions. At the end of the liquidation of the Proskurov-Kamianets-Podolsky enemy grouping and after the occupation of Chernivtsi, he intended to defeat the enemy in the Lvov region and bring his troops to the state border. The immediate task of the main forces of the front was to capture Vladimir-Volynsky on the right wing, Lvov in the center, and Drohobych on the left wing. The next task was to liberate the Przemysl region from the Germans. At the heart of the concept of the Lvov operation was again a roundabout maneuver.

However, this operation was also not carried out at that time, mainly due to a lack of forces. But the rational seeds of the commander's plan did not disappear. A detailed assessment of the possible development of the situation during the offensive revealed the closest relationship between the left-flank armies of the 1st Belorussian and the troops of the 1st Ukrainian fronts, which had a decisive influence on the order and timing of the summer operations here.

In the second half of April, the General Staff brought together all the considerations about the summer campaign. It was presented as a system of the largest operations in the history of wars over a vast area from the Baltic to the Carpathians. At least five or six fronts were to be involved in active operations almost simultaneously. Further study of the merits of the case determined, however, the expediency of conducting an independent large-scale operation in the Lvov direction, as well as operations in the Vyborg and Svir-Petrozavodsk directions.

Now the summer campaign loomed in this sequence. It was opened in early June by the Leningrad Front with an offensive against Vyborg. Then the Karelian Front joined in with the aim of defeating the enemy's Svir-Petrozavodsk grouping. As a result of these operations, the Finnish partner of Nazi Germany was supposed to drop out of the struggle. The performance of the Karelian Front was immediately followed by actions in Belarus, designed for surprise. Then, when the Hitlerite command already understood that it was here that decisive events were taking place, and would move their reserves here from the south, a crushing offensive of the 1st Ukrainian Front in the Lvov direction was to unfold. The defeat of the Belarusian and Lvov enemy groupings was the content of the main blow of the Soviet Armed Forces in the summer campaign of 1944. At the same time, it was supposed to carry out active operations by the forces of the 2nd Baltic Front in order to tie up the troops of the enemy army group "North", which, undoubtedly, will make attempts to ensure the stability of the neighbor on the right - the army group "Center". And finally, when the enemy is defeated as a result of all these mighty blows, the offensive in a new direction can be considered secured - to Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, as well as to Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia.

In this form, the outlines of the plan for the summer campaign were reported to the Headquarters by the end of April and served as the basis for formulating the political goals of the Soviet Armed Forces in the May Day order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. This festive order called on the troops to clear the entire land of our Motherland from the enemy and rescue the fraternal peoples of Poland, Czechoslovakia and other countries of Eastern Europe from Hitler's captivity.
And:
A kind of disinformation was also the abandonment of tank armies in the southwestern direction. Enemy reconnaissance followed us in both directions and, since these armies did not budge, they concluded that, most likely, we would launch an offensive precisely here. In fact, we were gradually preparing a tank strike in a completely different place. First of all, those tank and mechanized formations, which were soon to be regrouped in the Belarusian direction, were equipped with people and equipment.

Measures were also taken to ensure the secrecy of our intentions. A very narrow circle of people was involved in the direct development of the plan for the summer campaign in general and the Belarusian operation in particular. Only five people knew these plans in full: the Deputy Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the Chief of the General Staff and his First Deputy, the Chief of the Operational Directorate and one of his deputies. Any correspondence on this subject, as well as negotiations by telephone or telegraph, was strictly prohibited, and this was exercised the strictest control. The operational considerations of the fronts were also developed by two or three persons, usually written by hand and reported, as a rule, personally by the commanders. The troops began work to improve the defense. Front, army and divisional newspapers published materials only on defensive topics. All verbal agitation was aimed at a firm hold on the positions occupied. The work of powerful radio stations was temporarily stopped. Only low-power transmitters were included in the training radio networks, located no closer than 60 kilometers from the front edge and operating on a lowered antenna under special radio control.
On the issue of coordinating the Fronts and planning the operation, Zhukov notes:
On the plane on the way to Moscow, studying the latest data from the fronts, I once again became convinced of the correctness of the decision [214] of the Headquarters of April 12, 1944, in which one of the priorities for the summer of this year was the defeat of the grouping of German troops in Belarus. Previously, it was necessary to carry out a series of major strikes in other directions in order to draw the maximum of the strategic reserves of German troops from the regions of Belarus.

There was no doubt about success. Firstly, the operational disposition of the troops of the Army Group "Center" with its ledge towards our troops created favorable conditions for deep enveloping strikes under the base of the ledge. Secondly, on the axes of the main attacks, we now had the opportunity to create a predominant superiority over the enemy troops.

...

Arriving in Moscow [on 4/22], first of all I went to the General Staff to Alexei Innokentyevich Antonov. He prepared a map of military operations for the Supreme Commander. Aleksey Innokentyevich gave me information about the course of liquidation of the enemy in the Crimea and the creation of new reserve troops and materiel for the summer campaign. But he asked me not to tell the Supreme Commander that he had introduced me to the existence of the reserves. IV Stalin forbade anyone to give this information, so that we would not prematurely ask for reserves from the Stavka.

It must be said that the Supreme Commander-in-Chief had recently begun to more economically distribute the forces and means at the disposal of the Headquarters. He now gave them in the first place only to those fronts that really carried out decisive operations. Other fronts received reserves and forces in a reasonably limited amount.

...

IV Stalin invited me to his place for 5 pm. [215]

Calling A. I. Antonov, I found out that he was also summoned to the High Command. It was not difficult to guess that before meeting with me, IV Stalin wanted to get acquainted with the latest situation and the considerations of the General Staff.

...

After a brief review of all strategic areas, [Antonov] expressed the views of the General Staff on the possible actions of the German troops in the summer campaign of 1944. A. I. Antonov did not say anything about the nature of the actions of our troops for this period. I realized that Aleksey Innokent'evich decided to state them when the Supreme Commander suggested that he should.

...

Then I. V. Stalin slowly filled his pipe, lit it and, just as slowly puffing on it, blew out the smoke at once.

“Well, now let's listen to Zhukov,” he said, going up to the map on which A.I. Antonov reported.

I, also slowly, unfolded my map, which was, however, somewhat smaller in size than the map of the General Staff, but worked out no worse. The Supreme Commander approached my map and began to examine it carefully.

I began my report by agreeing with A. I. Antonov's main ideas about the expected actions of the German [216] troops and about the difficulties they would experience in 1944 on the Soviet-German front.

Here IV Stalin stopped me and said:

- And not only this. In June, the Allies are still going to carry out the landing of large forces in France. Our allies are on the move!

IV Stalin chuckled.

- They are afraid that we ourselves would not complete the defeat of fascist Germany without their participation. Of course, we are interested in seeing the Germans finally start fighting on two fronts. This will further worsen their situation, which they will not be able to cope with.

Outlining my thoughts on the plan for the summer campaign of 1944, I drew the Supreme Commander's particular attention to the enemy grouping in Belorussia, the defeat of which would destroy the stability of the enemy's defenses along his entire western strategic direction.

- And what does the General Staff think? - I. V. Stalin turned to A. I. Antonov.

“Agreed,” he replied.

I did not notice when the Supreme Commander pressed the call button to A. N. Poskrebyshev. He entered and stood waiting.

- Connect with Vasilevsky, - said I. V. Stalin.

A few minutes later, A. N. Poskrebyshev reported that A. M. Vasilevsky was on the line.

“Hello,” began I. V. Stalin. - I have Zhukov and Antonov. Could you fly in to consult on the plan for the summer?.. And what do you have near Sevastopol?.. Well, keep at it, then send me personally your proposals for the summer period.

He hung up. The Supreme Commander said:

- In 8-10 days, Vasilevsky promises to put an end to the enemy's Crimean grouping. Wouldn't it be better to start our operations from the 1st Ukrainian Front in order to envelop the Byelorussian grouping even deeper and pull the enemy's reserves there from the central direction?

AI Antonov noted that in this case the enemy can easily maneuver between neighboring fronts. It is better to start from the north, and then carry out an operation against Army Group Center in order to liberate Belarus.

“Let's see what Vasilevsky offers,” said the Supreme Commander. “Call the commanders of the fronts, let them report their thoughts on the actions of the fronts in the near future ...” and, turning to me, he continued:

- Consult with Antonov to outline a plan for the summer period. When you're ready, we'll talk again.

Two or three days later, the Supreme Commander called AI Antonov and me again. After discussing the plan, it was decided: to carry out the first offensive operation in June on the Karelian Isthmus and the Petrozavodsk direction, and then on the Belarusian strategic direction. [217]

After additional work with the General Staff on April 28, I returned to the 1st Ukrainian Front. In early May, when the liberation of the Crimea was coming to an end, I sent a proposal to the Supreme Commander to transfer the command of the 1st Ukrainian Front to I.S. Konev, so that I could leave without delay for Headquarters and begin preparations for the operation to liberate Belarus.

The Supreme Commander agreed, but warned that the 1st Ukrainian Front would remain my ward.

“Following the Belorussian operation, we will carry out an operation on the sector of the 1st Ukrainian Front,” he said.
On the issue of coordination, Vasilevsky says:
The General Staff began to develop a specific operational plan for the Belarusian operation and the plan for the summer campaign of 1944 as a whole in April. The plan [397] was based on the plan of the Supreme High Command, which provided for powerful converging strikes on the flanks of the Belarusian ledge - from the north of Vitebsk through Borisov to Minsk and from the south through Bobruisk also to Minsk - to defeat the main forces of the German Army Group Center, located in the middle of the ledge, east of Minsk. It was assumed that the successful implementation of the plan would make it possible to completely liberate the entire territory of Belarus, throw back the enemy front still hanging over Moscow west of Smolensk, then cut the enemy’s strategic front by going to the coast of the Baltic Sea and to the borders of East Prussia, putting the army group operating in the Baltic in a dangerous position " North", to create favorable prerequisites for delivering subsequent strikes against the enemy both in the Baltic states and in the western regions of Ukraine and for the development of new, decisive operations in the East Prussian and Warsaw directions most vulnerable to the Germans.
And:
During March and April, the plan for the summer campaign was repeatedly discussed and clarified with the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.

G.K. Zhukov and I were summoned to Moscow several times. Many times the Supreme Commander-in-Chief talked to us about individual details and by phone. At the same time, Stalin often referred to his negotiations on these issues with the commanders of the troops of the fronts, especially with K.K. Rokossovsky. When there were operations to liberate Right-Bank Ukraine and Crimea, Stalin reminded me of the need to finish them at all costs in April, so that in May I could completely switch to the preparation of the Belarusian operation.
In the first half of April opinions and plans are solicited from the fronts, including Rokossovsky's on 4/2. On 4/12 the importance of an offensive in Belarus is confirmed. But it's only on 4/15 that Stalin is convinced to (mostly) transfer the rest of the front to defense while the attack in Belarus is prepared. He thinks on it for a day, decides on 4/16, then the relevant directives are issued from 4/17-19. Then meetings from 4/22-28 in Moscow, which result in the confirmation of the general outline of the offensive plan. Specific proposals are requested from the individual fronts again, which Rokossovsky sends on 5/11. Things are discussed and a plan is put together on 5/20. Another conference is held from 5/22-26 with the relevant commanders, the General Staff, and Stalin to discuss the 5/20 plan in more detail. This leads to several changes, and the final plan is developed by 5/30 and issued on 5/31.

So, the timing of the two offensives is definitely linked. They would have occurred within a day or two of each other in mid-July had the Germans not withdrawn from Kovel on 7/5. The General Staff also took note in April that georgraphy suggested close coordination of the two attacks. But the operations don't plan any serious interaction between the two fronts even for their distant objectives. 1st Ukrainian Front's final plan forgoes a direct attack on Volodymyr included in its original. Like I'd noted before, this continues the pattern of the fronts (and 2nd Belorussian before) being directed to attack in different directions. The first plan I've seen with direct coordination between their actions is the 8/8 plan Zhukov submits for an offensive on Warsaw.

Fixed links:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/7/zoom/4

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... /10/zoom/4

Vasilyev
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Re: Planning and Implementation of the Lublin-Brest Operation

Post by Vasilyev » 16 Jul 2023 21:05

The final stage of planning began on 7/5, when the Germans withdrew from Kovel to the pre-prepared "Buffalo position" west of the city. In the final stage of the planning, Rokossovksy re-wrote the offensive plan from 6/20-23 to focus on Brest. They likely discussed the changes in-person at Rokossovsky's HQ in Ovruch. By 6/24, the planning for the operation had concluded and on 6/26 2nd Tank Army arrived from Romania. Shtemenko says:
The purpose of this strike was primarily to defeat the Kovel grouping of German fascist troops, which, according to our calculations of that time, consisted of at least ten divisions with reinforcements. After the breakthrough of the defense, it was planned to develop success in a northern direction along the eastern and western banks of the Western Bug, covering Brest from the southeast, west and north. Having captured Brest, mobile troops were to advance on Pruzhany, Slonim or Belsk, Bialystok. It is easy to see that in the event of a successful operation, the Nazi troops came under attack from two converging strike groups of the 1st Belorussian Front. The defeat of the enemy in this area opened up great prospects for the subsequent liberation of Warsaw.
At the same time, Konev argued for what would become the final plan of 1st UkrF in Moscow. The relevant directive was issued on 6/24 and the front's plan was submitted on 6/26. Discussions and the development of the plan would continue until 7/10-11. By this point, it had been decided for some time that Zhukov would coordinate the 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts in the first stage as well as 1st UkrF in the second stage.

Konev says:
According to the plan of the Stavka, the transition to the offensive of the 1st UkrF was planned in mid-July.

...

Taking into account our capabilities and the forces of the enemy, the front troops were tasked with encircling and destroying the enemy’s Lvov-Brod grouping, taking Lvov, dissecting the Northern Ukraine Army Group, throwing one part of it into the Polesie region, the other to the Carpathians, and with the main forces of the front to reach border of the Vistula.
Most likely, this includes the actions of the left wing of 1st BelF. The front's more detailed plan would be submitted and approved (with some notes from Moscow) on 7/7.

On 6/28, the 1st BelF was ordered to advance in the Slutsk-Baranovichi direction to envelope Minsk from the south. On 7/4 this was further extended to an advance on Brest and across the Bug river, to reach the line Slonim-Pinsk by 7/10-12. This would bring the 1st Belorussian Front's right wing up alongside its left and 1st Ukrainian Front, and both fronts would then attack at the same time according to the plans detailed above.

The retreat from Kovel provoked a hasty pursuit by 47th Army, which received a bloody nose along with 11th Tank Corps on 7/8. The General Staff reacted quickly to the changes on the ground:
Since the representative of the Stavka and the Front's Military Council did not yet have full confidence as to the nature of the enemy's further actions, various options for the development of the operation had to be considered. If the enemy begins to defend on the heights of the eastern [311]Western Bug, then the previous plan of operation remained with some minor amendments. In the event of the withdrawal of the Nazi troops (which was more likely), it would be advisable to direct the main blow to Deblin with access to the Vistula and the development of success along its eastern bank on the outskirts of Warsaw - Prague. It was planned to seize bridgeheads beyond the Vistula, which could serve in the future for an offensive to the west. Secondary strikes were proposed to be delivered to Siedlce (by troops of the 47th Army, reinforced by tank and cavalry corps) and to the north on Brest (70th Army), curtailing the enemy's defenses in front of the right-flank armies of the front.

In this plan, which was carefully and comprehensively considered by the General Staff, the task of reaching the Warsaw region of part of the forces of the left-flank armies of the front was successfully combined with the intention of a deeper encirclement of the enemy in the Brest region. We reported this to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. On the same day, July 7, Antonov sent a telegram to G.K. Zhukov about the approval of the plan by the Headquarters.
Zhukov was supervising the Baranovichi battle until 7/8, when he was called to Moscow to meet with Stalin. There he familiarized himself with the situation and discussed next steps for the offensive. Stalin reviewed and approved the Kovel plan on 7/9. Zhukov then flew to Ovruch to meet with Rokossovsky on 7/10, producing the final 7/11 offensive plan:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136685765

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=112905582

Zhukov also met with the communist Poles on 7/9 from the KRN (People's Council, based in Poland under the Polish People's Party PPR) and ZPP (Union of Polish Patriots, based in Moscow). The KRN had a complicated relationship with Moscow. Though subordinated to the VKP(b), the KRN had been founded without Moscow's permission during a period when communists in Poland had lost radio contact with Moscow (winter '43-44). Its delegations had only been able to make their way to Moscow to win Stalin over in May-June. Stalin's end goal was to subordinate Poland to the USSR and legitimize the territories annexed in 1939, but how that was to be achieved was still an open question at this point. By mid-July he had recognized the KRN. The final decision to use them to establish a Polish Committee of National Liberation (PKWN), an earlier concept originating from the ZPP, was made by 7/20 after extensive discussions between the communist Poles and Stalin over the preceding week. The ZPP would also provide "reinforcements" to the PKWN and PPR. These last minute political decisions made behind the scenes in reaction to events on the ground should be kept in mind.

Anyway, Zhukov claims at this meeting that it was already decided that Lublin would be the base of operations for the new communist government. I'm skeptical that this is 100% accurate, but the importance of Lublin certainly would've been discussed. But with the uncertain political situation even at this point, military plans would not be changed for the moment.

The offensive starts on 7/18, with recon in force and diversionary attacks on 7/17. The decision is made on 7/19 to commit 2nd Tank Army west of the Bug, not east of it on D-Day +2 as originally planned. While a smart choice, the change in plans leads to serious traffic jams and confusion when 2 TA tries to cross the Bug.

The first serious mistake of the campaign is also made. On 7/19, 70th and 61st Army are ordered to move into reserve after the fall of Brest:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... /13/zoom/4

On 7/21, an hour before a meeting with the communist Poles in Stalin's office, 1st BelF was ordered to seize Lublin:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... lya-1944-g

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... /13/zoom/4

Nebolsin notes in his book on 2 TA that NA Bulganin, member of the 1st BelF's Military Council, arrived at 2 TA's HQ on 7/22 to order it to seize the city by 7/25 instead of the previously ordered 7/27. Optimism in Moscow and pressure by tardy political decisions (the PKWN Manifesto, signed on 7/20, was announced on 7/22) led to the hasty decision to seize the city with tank and minimal infantry support. Worse, the confused crossing discussed above and hurried departure of the 2 TA ordered by Bulganin led the army to feed brigades into Lublin as they rolled up to the city. This compounded the difficulties it encountered seizing the city without much infantry or artillery support.

There are some interesting hints (eg from Shtemenko) which make me believe that the Front relied on the plan it already had on file for a drive Lublin-Demblin-Warsaw. This possibility was discussed with the General Staff before the operation and puts the sudden decision made to send 2 TA in a new direction in context.

It's unclear why Stalin waited 24 hours to order the capture of Lublin after the political side of things was wrapped up (for the moment). The heavier than expected German resistance (by 342nd ID and 1st Ski Jaeger Div) in front of 69th Army from 7/19-21 (originally supposed to take Lublin) may have convinced him that additional reinforcements were needed. The lagging shows up on the front's maps:

7/16-20

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=100604284

7/21-23

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=101077221

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