||Germany and the Soviet Union sign a
fresh treaty, which recognises their existing spheres of influence
and affirms current trade agreements.
||With Hitler's tacit support,
Marshal Antonescu suppresses a rebellion by the Iron Guard in
||Hitler reviews the plans for Operation
'Barbarossa', as German intelligence estimates that 155 Red
Army divisions are deployed in western Russia against just 116
German and Axis divisions. The starting date is again confirmed
as the 15th May 1941.
||Great Britain breaks off
diplomatic relations with Romania as it is now clear that the
Romanians are firmly allied to the Germans.
||Great Britain severs diplomatic
relations with Hungary.
||A 5 year Neutrality Pact is signed
in Moscow between the Soviet Union and Japan.
||The German build up for Operation 'Barbarossa'
continues with 59 divisions now deployed along the border with
the Soviet Union.
||Stalin declares himself
'Chairman of the Council of Peoples Commissars'.
||Over 100 German divisions
have now been deployed along Germanys frontier with the Soviet
||Hitler issues a directive for the implementation
of the Kommissarbefehl (Commissar Order) which calls for the
summary execution of all Soviet political commissars attached
to the Red Army. This order is tacitly disobeyed by most German
army and corps commanders who deem it contrary to German military
custom and tradition.
||Russian news agency Tass, denies German
threat on its borders and calls rumours ‘absurd and obviously
sheer hostile propaganda.’ The Russians begin to arrest
those in the Baltic States who might support a German occupation.
In all, about 50,000 are rounded up, with the majority never
to be seen alive again.
||Hitler meets with his top generals
to discuss matters concerning the upcoming campaign against
the Soviet Union. The 'Lucy' spy ring passes information to
the Soviet Union, detailing the start date for a German attack
as the 22nd June.
German formation commanders receive
confirmation of the date and time that the attack on the
Union will begin. This is to be 03:30 on the 22nd June 1941.
German Panzer units begin to move up to their final jump-off
positions. [View Battle Plan]
||The Russians order a black-out of all
major cities and towns near the border. However, they still
do not allow their troops to take up battle positions, in spite
of information given by two German deserters of an imminent
||Just after midnight the Red Army is
given orders to come to combat readiness, although they were
still not allowed to occupy battle positions. At 3:15am, Operation
Battle Plan] begins with German and Axis
forces comprising 183
divisions (3,500,000 men), 3,350 tanks, 7,184 guns and 1,945
aircraft launching the biggest military operation in history
on an 1,800-mile front from 'Finland to the Black Sea'. Three
Army Groups supported by powerful Panzer armies and Luftwaffe
bomber fleets, Army Group South (von Rundstedt) with Panzer
Group 1 (von Kleist), Army Group Centre (von Bock) with Panzer
Groups 2 (Guderian) and 3 (Hoth), and Army Group North (von
Leeb) with Panzer Group 4 (Hoepner), go into action against
132 Soviet divisions (2,500,000 men), 20,000 tanks and 7,700
aircraft. The overall objective of the campaign is to destroy
the Soviet forces in western Russia by the Autumn and to occupy
the European part of the Soviet Union up to the line Archangel
- Urals - Volga - Astrakhan. By the end of the first day, the
Luftwaffe had destroyed 800 Soviet aircraft on the ground
60 airfields and 400 in the air. The Red Army along the border
seemed unprepared for the assault and offered only limited
which allows the Panzer divisions to advance up to 50 miles
and maul 12 Soviet divisions.
|| The Red Army launches an armoured
counter-attack near Tilsit in Lithuania, but this is repulsed
with heavy losses. German forces cross the River Bug, bypassing
Brest-Litovsk from the North and South and penetrating 50 miles
into Russian occupied Poland. Slovakia declares war on the Soviet
||Army Group North sweeps into Lithuania
and White Russia, taking Vilna and Kaunas. Hungary breaks off
diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
||Major Russian forces are close to being
surrounded in the Bialystok area by Panzer units of Army Group
Centre. Panzer Group 1 captures Lutsk and Dubno, in what was
before September 1939 eastern Poland.
||German forces of Army Group North capture
Dünaburg in Latvia. The Luftwaffe carries out raids on
Leningrad. Heavy fighting in the Bialystok area as the German
Panzer’s units close the pocket.
||German forces capture Bobruisk and
Przemysl. Hungary declares war on the Soviet Union and agrees
to send troops to help Army Group South.
|| Army Group Centre's Panzer Groups
meet to the east of Minsk, capturing the city and trapping 27
Red Army divisions in a pocket to the west. Army Group South
meets tougher than expected resistance in its drive through
the southern Ukraine.
||Russian Defence Committee is formed
with Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Malenkov and Beria.
||Army Group Centre continues
to constrict the Bialystok pocket to the west of Minsk. Pilots
of Luftwaffe fighter wing JG-51 down 100 Soviet bombers attacking
German panzer forces east of Minsk, with its CO, Oberst Mölders,
accounting for 5 of them. German forces of Army Group South
capture Lemberg (Lvov).
||Armoured forces of Panzer
Group 4 of Army Group North cross the Dvina and capture Riga.
Units of Panzer Group 2 of Army Group Centre reaches the Berezina
||Advanced units of Panzer Group 4 force
their way through the Stalin line near Ostrov on the Latvian
border. Troops of the German 11th, Romanian 3rd and 4th Armies
begin an offensive from Moldavia toward Vinnitsa and the Black
Sea port of Odessa.
||For the first time since the beginning
of the German attack on the Soviet Union, Stalin speaks to the
Russian people over the radio. Demanding utmost resistance 'in
our patriotic war against German Fascism' and says 'A grave
threat hangs over our country.' He calls for a policy of scorched
earth if the Red Army is forced to yield ground and the formation
of 'people's partisan' groups behind enemy lines, as well as
the summary execution of all cowards and shirkers. Army Group
Centre eradicates the Bialystok pocket capturing 290,000 prisoners,
2,500 tanks, 1,500 guns in the process.
|| Units of Army Group Centre capture
||Units of German 6th Army break through
the Stalin Line East of Lvov, while Panzer Group 1 continues
its advance toward Zhitomir and Berdichev in the Ukraine.
||Army Group North continues its advance,
reaching a line from Lake Peipus through Reval to Parun, North
of the Gulf of Riga.
||Litvinov Broadcasts in English from
Moscow saying that the UK and Russia must strike at Germany
together. Panzer Group 4 of Army Group North captures Pskov
and advances toward Novgorod and Leningrad.
||Panzer Group 3 defeats Russian blocking
forces and capture Vitebsk.
||Panzer Group 1 repulses a violent Soviet
counter-attack in the area of Korosten to the west of Kiev.
|| Stalin replaces 3 major Soviet commanders
appointing Voroshilov for the northern, Timoshenko for the central
and Budjenny for the southern fronts. Armoured units of Panzer
Group 1 advance within 10 miles of Kiev.
||The Soviet Union and Great Britain
sign a mutual assistance pact declaring that neither state will
make a separate peace with the axis powers.
||Troops of Army Group North continue
their advance from Pskov toward Luga, 75 miles from Leningrad.
||Army Group North is now only 80 miles
||Army Group Centre encircles Smolensk,
along with a large body of Russians to the west of the City.
||Army Group South traps 20 Russians
divisions in a pocket at Uman.
||Hitler issues Directive No.33. This
states that Moscow is no longer the priority, but that once
the Smolensk pocket has been reduced, then Army Group Centre
is to hand over Panzer Group 3 to Army Group North and Panzer
Group 2 to Army Group South. This will enable the flanks to
be secured by capturing Leningrad in the North and overrunning
the Ukraine in the South.
||Stalin appoints himself Defence Commissar.
USSR resumes diplomatic relations with German occupied countries.
||The Luftwaffe launches its first bombing
raid on Moscow with 127 aircraft, but achieve minimal results.
||Brest-Litovsk is taken by German troops
after a month-long siege.
||Three Soviet armies are encircled and
destroyed in the Mogilev area.
|| German troops liberate Tallinn, the
capital of Estonia. Guderian's Panzer Group 2 is removed from
its subordination to von Kluge's 4th Army and put directly under
the control of Army Group Centre. This is due to severe disagreements
between the von Kluge and Guderian, which are disabling operations.
Fierce battles rage 25 miles to the east of Smolensk.
||German troops begin to eliminate the
Russian forces trapped in the pocket to the west of Smolensk.
||Marshal Zhukov resigns
as Russian Chief of Staff.
||Army Group North, which
is slowly advancing toward Leningrad, reaches Lake Ilmen, to
the south of Novgorod. However, its troops are very fatigued
due to the marshes and heavily wooded terrain.
||Army Group Centre continues
its liquidation of the Smolensk pocket. Soviet troops put up
fierce resistance near Orsha and Vitebsk west of Smolensk. A
powerful counter-offensive is launched at Gomel south of Mogilev
against German bridgeheads over the Dnieper River.
||38,000 Soviet prisoners are taken by
Army Group Centre after the Roslavl battle of encirclement.
||German troops capture Smolensk and
take 310,000 Red Army prisoners as the remnants of 16th and
20th Armies surrender.
||Joseph Stalin appoints himself Generalissimo
of the Red Army.
||Uman pocket eliminated and 103,000
Russian prisoners taken by the Germans.
||German Army Group South resumes its
offensive to the east, along the river Bug, with 11th and 17th
||Hitler issues Directive No.34 which
temporarily abandons Moscow as an objective in favour of the
Ukraine. Soviet forces counterattack at Staraya Russa south
of Lake Ilmen.
||Stalin acknowledges UK and US aid plan
and agrees to the ‘apportionment of our joint resources’.
Anglo-Soviet exchange agreement signed. 56th Panzer Korps of
Panzer Group 4 takes Novgorod on the road to Leningrad. German
and Romanian forces of Army Group South captures Nikolaev, an
important Soviet naval base on the Black Sea.
||Army Group North in its drive toward
Leningrad captures Narva. The Romanians seal off and begin a
siege of the Black Sea port of Odessa.
|| Russians withdraw across the Dnieper
River, allowing the Panzer Group 1 to establish a bridgehead
across the river at Zaporozhe, in the Ukraine.
||South of Lake Illmen, the Soviet 38th
Army is close to outflanking the German 10th Corps, but the
German 56th Panzer Corps counterattacks the Soviets and rolls
through their positions.
||German 11th Army captures Kherson on
the Black Sea and opens the gate to the Crimea. German 11th
Army captures Kherson on the Black Sea and opens the gate to
||Marshal Voroshilov tells the people
of Leningrad to defend their city to the last. Hitler orders
the investment, not capture, of Leningrad, and the transfer
of several divisions from the North and Centre to capture the
Crimea and the Donets basin, an industrial region vital to the
Soviet war effort.
||Russians counter-attack in the Gomel
sector. Heavy Romanian losses around Odessa.
|| Panzer Group 2, along with the 2nd
Army, attack southeast from their positions around Gomel and
Bryansk, in an attempt to link up with units of Army Group South
and encircle Kiev. Panzer Group 1 begins a breakout towards
the north from its bridgeheads across the Dnieper, with the
aim of linking up with units of Army Group Centre east of Kiev.
The German 6th Army engages the bulk of the Soviet forces gathered
around Kiev to stop them from retreating.
|| German losses on Russian Front reach
440,000, more than in the entire war before the 22nd June 1941.
Army Group North surrounds and destroys the Soviet forces in
the area of Velikije Luki.
||Army Group North captures Tallinn,
the capital of Estonia.
||The German 20th Panzer Division destroys
the northern Front's already broken Soviet 48th Army, and takes
the town of Mga, 40kms to the Southeast of Leningrad.
||Army Group South manages to move some
of 17th Army across the Dnieper river Southeast of Kremenchug.
||Hitler’s War Directive
No. 35 orders the capture of Moscow after the Ukraine operation
has been completed.
||The German 6th Army achieves a breakthrough
at Konotop in the Ukraine.
|| Leningrad is now completely surrounded
after German troops close the land bridge at Schluesselburg.
The Russians announce gains near Smolensk and claim eight German
divisions have been beaten.
||German order of the day says Leningrad
must be taken quickly, regardless of cost. Zhukov takes command
|| The first snow reported on Russian
Front. German forces in the Kremenchug bridgehead across the
Dnieper in the Ukraine and advance north to aid in the encirclement
||German High Command announces that
Russian POWs will get less rations than other nationalities.
||Army Group Centre completes the encirclement
of two Soviet armies at Kiev.
|| Siege of Leningrad begins.
|| Guderian’s Panzer Group 2 and
Kleist’s Panzer Group 1 meet east of Kiev, trapping five
|| Russians conscript all men aged 16
- 50. Units of Army Group South capture Poltava in the Ukraine.
The Russians evacuate Kiev, but the ‘fight to the death’
continues in the area for a week.
||Germans forces take the ruins of Kiev,
along with a massive haul of 600,000 prisoners, 2,500 tanks
and 1,000 guns.
||Army Group South begins an offensive
against the vital land bridge to the Crimea at Perekop.
||Hitler orders all attacks by Army Group
North on Leningrad stopped and the city to be besieged and starved-out.
After its foreseen surrender, the city is to be leveled.
||German High Command final records show
the capture of 665,000 prisoners in the Kiev operations.
||The first of the autumn
rains fall and quickly turns the ground to mud.
|| A Soviet-British-US conference opens
in Moscow to discuss western aid to Russia. Lord Beaverbrook
represents Britain and Averell Harriman the USA.
|| The attacks by Army Group South (von
Rundstedt) to force an entry into the Crimea are halted.
||As part of operation 'Typhoon'
Battle Plan] Guderian's Panzer Group 2 opens its offensive against Moscow,
2 days ahead of the rest of Army Group Centre and makes 50-miles
in its advance towards Orel.
||The Soviet-British-US conference
in Moscow concludes with a protocol being signed committing
the Britain and the USA to supply Russia with 400 aircraft immediately
and 500 aircraft per month until the 30th June 1942. There-after
the protocol would be renewable annually. Further, both countries
undertook to deliver 41,000 tons of Aluminium immediately and
6,000 tons of rubber and 1,500 tons of tin per month. Food and
medical supply's were also included.
||Army Group Centre launches operation
'Typhoon', the main offensive towards Moscow. Hitler tells his
troops: ‘Today is the beginning of the last great battle
of the year'. Army Group South begins an advance against Kursk
|| Hitler tells the German people that
Russian 'has already been broken and will never rise again'.
Troops of Army Group Centre capture Orel.
||Advancing in the southern Ukraine,
Panzer Group 1 reaches the Sea of Azov.
|| Stalin lifts ban on religion in Russia
to boost morale. German advance on Moscow continues with the
capture of Vyasma.
||Hitler announces that the war in the
East, for all intents and purposes, has already been decided
in favour of the Reich.
|| The 250th 'Blue' Division, made up
of Spanish volunteers and formed within days of the German attack
on the Soviet Union, goes into action against the Russians for
the first time in the sector between Lake Illmen and the west
bank of the Volkhov river. General Zhukov is put in charge of
the West Front for the defence of Moscow. Army Group South concludes
the battle along the Sea of Azov and takes 100,000 prisoners.
||Rumours of an impending capture of
Moscow by the German Army cause thousands of civilians to flee
||Army Group Centre captures Kaluga and
Bryansk. Women and children evacuated from Moscow.
||German forces of Army Group Centre
capture Kalinin, just 100 miles to the West of Moscow.
||Army Group Centre wipes out the Russian
pocket at Bryansk, but only capture about 50,000 prisoners.
The rain and mud begins to impede the German advance, but German
troops manage to capture Rzhev. Hitler orders that Moscow is
to be enveloped, rather that assaulted directly. Russian troops
fall back in the southern Ukraine as the Germans make for the
port of Rostov.
||Moscow now considered in real jeopardy.
Following the evacuation of the Soviet government and diplomatic
corps from Moscow to Kuibyshev, panic begins to spread among
the civilian population, with thousands fleeing the city to
places further east, but Stalin decides to stay. Odessa falls
to the Romanians after a Soviet evacuation by sea. During the
2 month siege, the Romanians have suffered 98,000 casualties.
||Taganrog on the Sea of Azov is captured
by Army Group South.
||German units are now only 80 miles
west of Moscow.
||Army Group Centre finally clears the
Vyazma pocket capturing 670,000 Russians, 1,000 tanks and 4,000
guns. Stalin declares state of siege in Moscow and orders its
defence to the last.
||Units of 6th Army capture Stalino in
the industrial Donets Basin.
||Army Group South takes Kharkov and
||The Russians launch numerous counter-attacks
around Moscow in an attempt to halt the German advance. 11th
Army forces a breakthrough at Perekop, thus opening the gate
to the Crimean peninsula.
||Germans troops advance in strength,
down in to the Crimea, forcing the Russians to fall back in
||The worsening weather and seas of mud
bring the German offensive against Moscow almost to a standstill.
This gives the Red Army precious time to reinforce their defences
in front of Moscow.
||German troops of the 11th
Army take Simferopol, the capital of the Crimea and close in
||Germans troops capture Kursk.
||Units of 11th Army capture Feodosiya
in the Crimea.
||Stalin claims Axis casualties on Eastern
Front now 4.5 million, when actually less than 700,000. The
first cases of frostbite in the German Army are recorded.
|| Speaking from Red Square in Moscow,
with the spearheads of the Wehrmacht less than 100 miles from
the capital, Stalin predicts that 'the Fascist German invaders
are facing disaster'. The German High Command decides to resume
the advance on Moscow as soon as possible, although by now it
is estimated that 80 Russian divisions stand in their way.
||Army Group North advances across the
Volkhov river and captures Tikhivin. Hitler claims Russian losses
are 8 - 10 million, which is perhaps double the truth.
||Germans capture Yalta in Crimea.
||Temperature near Moscow drops to -80°F
||In temperatures of -20°C, Army
Group Centre resumes its offensive against Moscow, employing
Panzer Groups 1, 2 and 3, as well as the 2nd, 4th and 9th Armies.
||The German 11th Army takes Kerch in
the eastern Crimea, although Sevastopol still holds out.
|| The Germans establish the post of
Reichskommissariat Ostland under Alfred Rosenberg, to administer
the recently conquered territories in the east. Siberian troops
are heavily engaged in front of Moscow.
|| The 3rd Panzer Korps captures Rostov-on-Don.
|| German troops are now only 35 miles
north-west of Moscow.
|| The Germans continue their advance
against Moscow, throwing all their available strength in to
the attack in a final attempt to capture the Russian capital.
|| German Panzer’s only 19 miles
from Moscow. Some armed patrols have penetrated in to the western
suburbs of the city and managed to get a good look at the Kremlin.
||Overextended and short of supplies,
the 3rd Panzer Korps evacuates Rostov and withdraws to the Mius
river, 30 miles to the West.
|| Depleted by continuous savage fighting,
blizzards and sub-zero temperatures, Army Group Centre's offensive
begins to grind to a halt as German units find it increasingly
difficult to make ground. The Russians launch a counter-attack
at Rostov-on-Don, forcing the German to evacuate the city and
withdraw west towards the river Mius.
||Germans patrols are just
five miles from the Kremlin.
||Temperature falls to -31°F (-37°C)
on Russian Front.
|| With the main forces of Army Group
Centre just 19 miles from Moscow, Hitler abandons the offensive
for winter and agrees to some local withdrawals to more defensive
terrain. Zhukov launches a counter-offensive across the frozen
upper Volga in the area of Kalinin, to the northwest of Moscow.
He uses Konev's Kalinin Front for the purpose, but despite the
severe cold and exhaustion of the German troops, his forces
meet severe resistance, with only the 31st Army enjoying any
success as it pushed towards Turginovo. Hungary declares war
on Britain. Romania declares war on Britain.
|| Zhukov extends the Red Army's counter-offensive
along the whole Moscow axis in an attempt to prevent Panzer
Groups 3 and 4 from outflanking Moscow from the northeast. To
launch this offensive, Zhukov uses 4 armies on the right flank
of his own West Front.
|| Field Marshal von Brauchitsch after
suffering a recent heart attack tenders his resignation to Hitler,
although this is not accepted immediately. Zhukov issues orders
to the left flank armies of his West Front to begin offensive
operations against Panzer Group 2, which is attempting to withdraw
out of a salient near Tula. The aim of this offensive would
be to cut off Panzer Group 2 and destroy it in the area of Stalinogorsk.
|| The Soviet offensive against Army
Group Centre succeeds in breaking through the German lines in
many places, causing hasty withdrawals by ill-prepared and frost-bitten
troops that are forced to abandon much heavy equipment that
was immobilised by the below-zero weather.
|| The Red Army recaptures Tikhivin.
Zhukov issues an order forbidding frontal attacks, in favour
of envelopments and outflanking maneuvers, as he says frontal
attacks merely allow the Germans to withdraw in good order.
|| Hungary declares war on the USA. Romania
declares war on the USA.
|| The Soviet press issues a triumphant
statement on the repulse of the German Armies before Moscow.
The Red Army launches a new counter-offensive using Timoshenko's
South West Front in an attack northwest against the juncture
of Panzer Group 2 and the German 2nd Army between Yelets and
Livny. This results in Panzer Group 2's right flank being left
open as the 2nd Army is forced to withdraw in order to save
itself. Field Marshal von Brauchitsch meets Field Marshal von
Bock, C-in-C of Army Group Centre and decide that Army Group
Centre must withdraw some 90 miles west to take up a 'winter
line'. Secret orders are passed to this effect.
||As German forces evacuate Kalinin,
100 miles to the Northwest of Moscow, Hitler furious at what
he sees as weakness by his Generals, countermands Field Marshal
von Brauchitsch's plans for withdrawal.
|| Stalin orders all functions of the
Soviet state to relocate back to Moscow now that he is sure
that the threat to the capital has been removed. Stalin also
orders that the counter offensive should be extended along the
whole of the eastern front. Klin is recaptured by the Red Army.
Stalin orders that Army Group Centre should be destroyed by
a double envelopment from the north and south.
|| Field Marshal von Brauchitsch's resignation
as head of OKH is accepted by Hitler, who now assumes personal
command of the Army and its operations on the Eastern front.
Hitler sacks Army Group Centre's commander, Field Marshal von
Bock and replaces him with Field Marshal von Kluge. Stalin creates
the Bryansk Front, which is to operate between the West and
South West Fronts and lend added weight to the southern prong
of the double envelopment of Army Group Centre.
||Hitler orders that there should be
'No withdrawal’ by the German Army and that it should
stand and fight where it is.
||German forces of Army Group Centre
retreating from before Moscow reach a new defensive line more
than 100km to the west, where, following strict orders by Hitler,
they are to stand and fight off any further Soviet advances.
||Typhus reported to be sweeping through
the German forces along the Russian front.
||Over 3,000 starve to death in Leningrad.
Hitler removes Guderian from command of Panzer Group 2.
||The Russians land on the Kerch Peninsula
in an attempt to relieve the siege of Sevastopol.
||The Red Army continues its counter-offensive
in the Kalinin area.
||Soviet troops make an amphibious landing
at Feodosiya on the south coast of the Crimea in order to relive
pressure against Sevastopol and hopefully clear the Germans
from the Crimea.
||The Russian success in
the Crimea continues as the Germans make a hurried evacuation
||All further German attacks against
the Crimean fortress of Sevastopol are halted for the winter.