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During World War II, Operation Bagration was the general attack by Soviet forces to clear the Nazis from Belarus which resulted in the destruction of the German Army Group Centre, possibly the greatest defeat for the Wehrmacht during the war.
The offensive, in combination with the neighbouring Lvov-Sandomierz Operation launched a few weeks later in Ukraine, allowed the Soviet Union to recapture practically all the territories within its 1941 borders, advance into the territory of Germany in East Prussia, and reach the outskirts of Warsaw after gaining of control of the part of Poland located east of the Vistula river.
This attack began on the morning of June 22, 1944, three years to the day after the German attack on the Soviet Union. OKW had expected an attack on Army Group South, which had already been severely weakened and driven from most of Ukraine. The army group had received armaments diverted from Army Group Centre just prior to the attack.
Operation Bagration pitted over 1,700,000 Soviet soldiers in 200 divisions with 6000 tanks and massed artillery against the 34 German divisions of Army Group Centre. This resulted in the death or capture of nearly 350,000 German troops.
The neighbouring Lvov-Sandomierz operation was launched on July 17, 1944, rapidly routing the German forces in Ukraine. The rapid progress of that offensive brought the Soviet forces to the gates of Warsaw in the final days of July. Operation Bagration also cut off and isolated the German units of Army Group North fighting in Courland. The disruption caused by these operations in turn helped the Soviet Union to advance into the Balkans in August 1944.
The Germans had transferred units to meet the invasion of Normandy two weeks before. Four Soviet “Fronts” (army groups) totaling over 120 divisions smashed into the thinly-held German line.
The Soviets achieved a ratio of ten to one in tanks and seven to one in aircraft over their enemy. At the points of attack, the numerical and quality advantages of the Soviets were overwhelming. The Germans crumbled.
The capital of Belarus, Minsk, was taken on July 3, trapping fifty thousand Germans. Ten days later the Red Army reached the prewar Polish border. Overall the annihilation of Army Group Centre cost the Germans 2,000 tanks, 57,000 other vehicles and over 300,000 soldiers. Soviet losses were about 178,507 killed, wounded and missing, 2,957 tanks, 2,447 artillery pieces, and 822 planes.
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