Great Patriotic War - The Third Period
In January 1944, the Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, I. M. Maisky, presented Molotov with a note “On the Desirable Foundations of the Future World”, in which were finalized suggestions regarding the borders and interests of the USSR in the post-war world. They boiled down to the following inclusion of the Petsamo region into the USSR, the return of the South Sakhalin to the USSR, the transfer of the Kuril Islands, the provision of a common USSR border with Czechoslovakia (at the expense of Poland or Romania), the conclusion of long-term agreements with Finland and Romania on the provision of the USSR military bases on their territory, guarantees of "free and convenient" use of transit routes through Iran to the Persian Gulf.
It was proposed to split Germany into a number of independent states (the leaders of the United States and Britain in Tehran also agreed with this). It was proposed to restore France as a “more or less large European power”, without reviving its military power. It expressed the desire to eliminate dictatorial regimes in Spain and Portugal with the conclusion of the Mutual Assistance Pact and the military alliance with Spain. It was recognized in the interests of the USSR to promote the creation of federations in Europe — the Danube, Balkan, Central European, Scandinavian, etc.
Stressing the need for an independent and viable Poland, Maysky at the same time noted that “we are not interested in the birth too big strong Poland ”given that Poland has always been hostile to Russia. The same was said for Hungary. On the contrary, it was proposed to "strive to create a strong Czechoslovakia." It was proposed to conclude mutual assistance agreements with all Balkan countries, and with Greece (due to the particular interest of England in it) - the tripartite pact of mutual assistance between England, the USSR and Greece, following the example of Iran.
Developing ideas for the creation of British (and possibly American) bases in Norway, Maysky considered it necessary to seek also the deployment of Soviet bases there. At the same time, he proposed agreeing with a possible US protectorate over Iceland. There were no objections to the possible accession to France of the Belgian Wallonia, as well as the deployment of British military bases in Belgium and Holland. At the same time, he proposed agreeing with a possible US protectorate over Iceland. There were no objections to the possible accession to France of the Belgian Wallonia, as well as the deployment of British military bases in Belgium and Holland. At the same time, he proposed agreeing with a possible US protectorate over Iceland. There were no objections to the possible accession to France of the Belgian Wallonia, as well as the deployment of British military bases in Belgium and Holland.
With regard to Turkey, it was proposed to prevent its strengthening. With the help of the Soviet-Bulgarian and Soviet-Romanian Pacts, it was considered expedient to exclude its influence on Balkan affairs. This niche, naturally, was to occupy the USSR. In Iran, it was proposed to strengthen Soviet penetration with the help of “a whole range of economic, cultural and political activities” of creating Soviet hospitals and schools for Iranians, learning Russian, assisting in organizing Iranian armed forces, etc. cultural and political. Maisky believed that the USSR was not interested in participating in the war with Japan, although it should certainly seek its military defeat. He rightly considered the main result of such a rout to be the strengthening of the positions of the USSR in China.
The Zhitomir-Berdichev operation began what the Soviets call the Right Bank of the Ukraine Strategic Offensive, which encompassed two distinct phases. The first phase, from December 1943 to the end of February 1944, consisted of five major operations conducted successively by one or two fronts. During this phase, the third period of war commenced on 31 December. The second phase, which lasted from 4 March to 12 May 1944, consisted of three simultaneous and two successive operations, each by a single front. Operational maneuver forces played a significant role in these operations and often resulted in the encirclement of large German forces, although at this stage most encircled forces were able to escape destruction. More disturbing for the Germans was the fact that for the first time Soviet mobile forces successfully operated during the period of the razputitsa [spring flooding], a time when, in earlier years, operations came to a grinding halt.
Several notable features characterized the first phase of these operations. During the Kirovograd operation, the Soviet 2d Ukrainian Front employed a portion of its operational maneuver force to deceive the Germans regarding the location of their main attack, a technique the Soviets improved upon in the future. During the Korsun'-Shevchenkovskiy operation, the 2d Ukrainian Front's operational maneuver force, the 5th Guards Tank Army, continued its exploitation despite the fact that German tactical defenses temporarily solidified behind it. In addition, the mobile groups of the 1st and 2d Ukrainian Fronts formed an outer encirclement line around two encircled German corps, while rifle and cavalry forces reduced the encircled German forces. This formation was designed to permit the forces manning the outer encirclement line to continue to develop the offensive while the encircled force was being destroyed. Soviet forces, however, were not able to accomplish this feat successfully until the summer operations of 1944. Elsewhere, cavalry and cavalry-mechanized forces played an important role in the offensives, particularly in swampy regions near Rovno and Lutsk and in operations during rainy periods in the southern Ukraine.
During the second phase of the offensive, the Stavka placed three tank armies at the 1st Ukrainian Front's disposal. General Vatutin, the front commander, and Marshal Zhukov, who succeeded him when Vatutin was killed by Ukrainian partisans, regrouped these tank armies secretly from his right flank to his left. He then committed them in sequence (first two and then one) from the Lutsk area south toward the Romanian border in an attempt to encircle German Army Group South.46 After advancing 120-180 kilometers, the three tank armies encircled German First Panzer Army, which barely escaped destruction by breaking out to the west. The offensive concluded in early May with a major offensive by the 2d Ukrainian Front toward Yassy in northern Romania. The operation, which the Germans called the Battle of Targul-Frumos, failed when German Panzer forces skillfully countered a poorly coordinated assault spearheaded by the Soviet 2d, 5th Guards, and 6th Tank Armies.
Soviet employment of multiple tank armies, mobile corps, and cavalry- mechanized corps fragmented German defenses in the Ukraine and forced German forces to withdraw from the Ukraine into Poland and Romania. Improved Soviet mobile force logistics permitted deeper operations over longer periods. Most important, the concentration of Soviet armor and mechanized units in the Ukraine convinced German planners that in the summer the Soviets would attack German forces in Poland and Romania. The Soviets reinforced this misperception by deliberately posturing offensively in the south while secretly moving large mobile formations northward into Belorussia. The Stavka prepared to conduct a series of devastating offensives in the summer that would rely on operational maneuver forces and deception to produce significant strategic success.
Planning for the 1944 summer-fall campaign began in May. Under the cloak of an extensive strategic deception plan, the Stavka planned four major successive strategic blows, each capitalizing on the results of the preceding offensive and each relying on operational maneuver forces to produce victory. Each operation targeted a single German army group for destruction, and three of the four relied for success on strategic-scale maneuver by large mobile forces. For the first time, the Soviets employed large mobile formations in the terrain of Belorussia, which the Soviets previously had considered less suited to armored operations than southern Russia or the Ukraine.
During the Belorussian operation, the Stavka employed simultaneous and then successive encirclement operations to destroy the German Third Panzer and Ninth Armies around Vitebsk and Bobruysk and, subsequently, Fourth Army and the bulk of Army Group Center east of Minsk. Separate tank corps served as army operational maneuver forces; and the 5th Guards Tank Army and two cavalry-mechanized groups formed front mobile groups for deep exploitation. In addition, tailored forward detachments created by combined-arms armies and rifle corps conducted tactical maneuver to produce shallow encirclements. These tactical and operational maneuver forces operated in concert to continue the exploitation after German forward forces had been encircled. The Belorussian offensive, code-named Operation BAGRATION, commenced on 22 June and developed rapidly and spectacularly. The armies' mobile groups exploited the success of rifle forces on the first or second day of the operation; and, in the Vitebsk region, the advancing forward detachments and rifle forces quickly encircled most of the Third Panzer Army.
On the first day of operations, the cavalry-mechanized group exploited toward the Berezina River northeast of Minsk, and the 5th Guards Tank Army advanced directly toward the Berezina River and Minsk on the third day. To the south, army mobile groups committed on the first and third day of the operation reached Bobruisk and encircled major portions of the German Ninth Army, while another cavalry-mechanized group thrust northwestward on the second day to sever German communications routes running into Minsk from the south and southwest. By orienting their advance on key terrain southwest and northwest of Minsk, the fronts' operational maneuver forces had linked up west of Minsk by 3 July, secured the city without costly urban combat, and encircled large segments of Army Group Center. Unlike earlier operations, Soviet forces were able to continue the offensive westward and simultaneously destroy the bulk of three German armies, assisted by the fact that the bulk of German armor remained in the south in the expectation of a major Soviet offensive in that region.
No sooner had the Stavka inflicted a devastating defeat on Army Group Center than it launched a second major offensive against German Army Group North Ukraine, defending in southern Poland. The First Ukrainian Front struck German defenses northeast and east of L'vov on 13 July 1944. Two tank armies (the 3d Guards and 4th) and a cavalry-mechanized group, operating as front mobile groups, assaulted L'vov from the east. Simultaneously, a secretly deployed third tank army (the 1st Guards) struck German defenses at L'vov from the northeast in cooperation with a second cavalry-mechanized group. The Germans expected the former attack but were unprepared for the latter. The armies' mobile groups (separate tank corps) advanced on the first day of operations and were followed by the tank armies and cavalry-mechanized groups.
In the south, however, the offensive did not develop as planned. Rifle forces penetrated German defenses in the 3d Guards Tank Army's commitment sector but failed to pierce German defenses in the sector where the 4th Tank Army was to join battle. Hastily, both tank armies and several tank corps regrouped and advanced through the narrow (6-kilometer) corridor in the 3d Guards Tank Army's sector. The 3d Guards Tank Army advanced on the third day, followed over the next two days by the 4th Tank Army. Once committed, the two mobile groups enveloped German defenses around L'vov.
The 1st Guards Tank Army's and the cavalry-mechanized group's operations to the north had even more devastating effect on the Germans. Prior to its commitment on the fifth day of the operation, the 1st Guards Tank Army had ordered its army's forward detachment (the 1st Guards Tank Brigade) to attack westward and deceive the Germans regarding the direction of the army's main attack. Once German operational reserves (the 16th and 17th Panzer Divisions) had responded to that threat, thinking it to be the bulk of the Russian tank army, the main Russian Army advanced to the southwest, broke cleanly through German defenses, and advanced deep into their operational rear. Subsequently, Soviet operational maneuver forces drove to the Vistula River, where they secured a key bridgehead. By the end of the operation, the three Soviet tank armies had advanced up to 300 kilometers during only 15 days of continuous operations. Capitalizing on Red Army successes in Belorussia and southern Poland, on 17 July the 1st Belorussian Front's left wing advanced from the Kovel' area toward the Vistula River south of Warsaw, employing its secretly redeployed 2d Tank Army and a cavalry-mechanized group as front mobile groups. The 2d Tank Army reached the banks of the Vistula River in early August and turned north toward Warsaw, only to be halted on the outskirts of Warsaw on 4 August by heavy German counterattacks.
Between 23 June and early August 1944, multiple Soviet mobile groups employed deep operational maneuver across an 800-kilometer front to thrust deep into the German rear along numerous axes. The attacking Soviet forces forced the shaken German defenders to frantically erect new defenses along the Narev and Vistula Rivers, over three hundred kilometers west of their original defense lines. Only the increased number, strength, and resilience of Soviet operational maneuver forces made this possible. To an increasing extent, the axiom held true that, where Red Army mobile forces operated successfully, Soviet offensives succeeded. Where they failed, offensives failed.
The final Soviet blow in the summer-fall campaign occurred in August 1944 where the Germans had expected the first blow to fall. On 20 August the Soviet 1st and 2d Ukrainian Fronts struck German Army Group South Ukraine in Romania. The two Soviet fronts employed tank and mechanized corps, configured as army mobile groups, to conduct shallow encirclements, while the 1st Ukrainian Front's mobile group, the 6th Guards Tank Army, conducted deep operational maneuver toward Bucharest. The two Soviet fronts fully encircled and destroyed two Axis armies (the Sixth German and Third Romanian) within nine days. In the wake of this destruction, the remnants of German Army Group South Ukraine frantically erected defenses in the Carpathian Mountains to block the Soviet offensive from spreading into eastern Hungary. Near the end of the summer-fall campaign, the Stavka ordered additional assaults to exploit the Germans' unprecedented defeats. The 3d Belorussian Front conducted the most important of these along the Gumbinnen-Königsberg and Goldap axes into the heartland of German East Prussia in late October. Once again, the limited availability of combat- capable operational maneuver forces at the end of a long strategic campaign (in this case, only the 2d Guards Tank Corps was available) permitted the Germans to parry the Soviet thrust. As was the case before in the Kursk and Orel regions, Belorussia, and Romania, the conquest of East Prussia would have to wait several more months.
During the winter campaign of 1944, Soviet operational maneuver forces successfully encircled German forces; but those encirclements had been either partial, or the quarry had escaped. In the summer, however, the encirclements were larger, and few of the encircled forces escaped destruction. By summer the Soviets had mastered the most difficult step of an encirclement operation, the ability to continue the exploitation while encircled forces were being destroyed. This sealed the fate of the encircled and extended the range of the operation. The increased use of forward detachments by operational maneuver forces, their refined composition, and the improved logistical structure of mobile forces overall markedly improved the Soviets' capability for sustaining operations to greater depths and for longer periods.
Soviet operational maneuver forces and techniques achieved their greatest successes in 1945. This was due to more experienced Soviet commanders, improved weaponry, and the weakening of German forces, which had been dealt such devastating blows in 1944 and now had to contend with a two-front war. Mitigating these Soviet advantages was the shrunken Eastern Front, which now ran from the Baltic Sea through Hungary, and the manpower crisis facing the Stavka. Given the catastrophic losses the Red Army had suffered in more than three years of war, success in 1945 would have to depend on sustained operational maneuver rather than wholesale expenditures of men's lives.
During the fall of 1944, the Stavka planned a climactic winter offensive to drive German forces to the Baltic coast and the Danzig-Poznan- Breslau-Budapest line. Since the offensive would be conducted across a more restricted front against more heavily fortified German defenses, careful planning was necessary to generate sufficient force superiority in key front sectors. By the second half of September in the Baltic a significant portion of which had already by that time been freed of the Nazi occupiers.
Party political work had its particular features. These were determined chiefly by the large number of recruits arriving in the troops from the induction of groups from the just liberated territory of the Baltic republics as well as the western oblasts of Belorussia and the Ukraine. A significant portion of the recruits did not have combat experience. In certain divisions the number of rank-and-file which previously had not participated in battles reached 70 percent and more. This required great efforts from the commanders and political workers, the party and Komsomol organizations to quickly bring the "novices" up to the level of experienced soldiers.
Talks were conducted with the young soldiers on such subjects as: "The Military Oath--A Law in the Life of a Red Army Soldier," "The Current Moment and Our Tasks," "The Fraternal Aid of the Russian People to the Baltic" and others. On the eve of the offensive the Military Council of the Third Baltic Front in an appeal to the troops wrote: "Let us beat the azis in the Baltic and they will not appear in East Prussia. By this we will help the men of the other fronts...." The political bodies showed great con cern for increasing the party ranks by recruiting experienced soldiers and commanders. By the start of the operation the First Baltic Front had 173,190 communists, the Second Front had 113,970 while the Leningrad Front had 173,433 party members and candidate members.
The reduced rate of advance was also explained by the fact that the rifle troops breaking through the prepared enemy defenses were not sufficiently reinforced by close support tanks. In the four fronts there were 3,080 tanks and self-propelled artillery mounts [SAU], However, approximately one-third of the total amount was assigned for close support. This applied particularly to the troops of the Second and Third Baltic Fronts, where 75 percent of the tanks and SAU were assigned to exploit the success and only around one-quarter (25 percent) for close support.
The Stavka selected the Warsaw-Poznan-Berlin axis as the focal point for its operations after the New Year. In the meantime, Soviet forces along the strategic flanks in the Baltic region and Hungary conducted offensives to distract German attention and reserves from the critical western axis. A Red Army advance to the Danzig-Poznan- Breslau line required that it sustain offensive operations to a depth of almost three hundred kilometers, and the new area of operations was crisscrossed with well-prepared, but largely unoccupied, defense lines. An advance to this depth required rapid penetration of tactical defenses and coherent, well-coordinated conduct of deep operational maneuver into the operational depths.
The Stavka planned two major offensive operations along adjacent strategic axes. The most important offensive required two fronts to advance toward Poznan and Breslau from bridgeheads across the Vistula River south of Warsaw. The second required two more fronts to advance into East Prussia toward Königsberg, the lower Vistula River, and Danzig. The offensive across Poland (named the Vistula-Oder operation) was aimed at dismembering and destroying German Army Group A by deep, cutting thrusts. The offensive into East Prussia (named the East Prussian operation) was designed to pin German Army Group Center against the coast between Königsberg and the mouth of the Vistula River and destroy it. The former began on 13-14 January and the latter on 14-15 January, and Soviet mobile groups played a key role in three of the four front operations.
It must be pointed out that for a number of reasons it was not possible to complete the defeat of the troops in the Army Group North in the course of the operation. A portion of its forces (more than 30 divisions) were able to retreat to the territory of Kurland, where they continued defensive operations up to the end of the war on the Soviet-German Front.
Among the important reasons for the incomplete attaining of the operation's goal was the weakness of the initial attacks by the fronts and the insufficient degree of fire damage to the enemy in the course of the offensive. This was explained primarily by the low manning rate of the rifle divisions and by the small limit of ammunition assigned to the troops. As a result the break-through rate of the enemy tactical defensize zone was low and this made it possible for the Nazi Command to consistently organize its defenses on previously prepared lines.
In the Vistula-Oder operation, Marshal I. S. Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front employed separate tank corps as mobile groups for each army participating in the main attack from the Sandomierz bridgehead. He used two tank armies (the 3d Guards and 4th) to exploit the initial offensive success. The 1st Belorussian Front, now commanded personally by Marshal Zhukov, exploited his front's main attack from the smaller Magnushev bridgehead, with two tank armies (the 1st and 2d Guards), which entered the bridgehead soon after the rifle armies had commenced their assault. Zhukov supported the main effort by launching attacks from the even smaller Pulavy bridgehead with two separate tank corps functioning as army mobile groups. The two fronts also committed their mobile groups to combat in different fashion. Konev orchestrated a massive blow on the first day of operations, and his three army and two front mobile groups advanced into combat on the heels of the rifle armies' assault. So close was the cooperation that tank army forward detachments deployed within the rifle army's attacking formation. On the other hand, since Zhukov initially had no room within the bridgehead to deploy his two tank armies, the armies entered combat sequentially on the second and third day of operations after rifle armies had penetrated German tactical defenses.
Both techniques were equally devastating. Deception concealed the scale of Soviet concentration and, combined with economy of force elsewhere, produced Soviet force superiority of over 10:1 in manpower and 6:1 in armor. Konev's assault swept through German defenses in a matter of hours and smashed the two reinforcing German Panzer divisions; within two days the 3d Guards and 4th Tank Armies were streaming deep into the Germans' operational rear. Zhukov's forces penetrated German defenses quickly; and the 1st and 2d Guards Tank Armies began their operational exploitation on the second and third day of operations. The momentum of the four exploiting tank armies was so great that they swept around and encircled German operational reserves (Panzer Corps Grossdeutschland) deployed from East Prussia. Within a week the four Soviet tank armies and five tank corps advanced west, past Lodz and Krakow toward Poznan and Breslau, virtually obliterating organized German defenses across a 250-kilometer front.
While three tank armies raced toward the Oder River, the 3d Guards Tank Army dealt with German resistance anchored on the industrial city of Katowice in southern Poland. On the evening of 20 January, Konev ordered the tank army to turn abruptly southward 90 degrees away from its projected line of advance, west toward Breslau. The army reoriented its forward detachments southward within hours, and the remainder of the army followed the next day. The attack ultimately forced the Germans to abandon their defensive bastion. By 1 February Soviet forces had reached the Oder River from Kuestrin, 60 kilometers east of Berlin, to south of Oppeln and had secured small bridgeheads across the river 100 kilometers beyond their planned objective of Poznan. The spectacular Soviet advance covered up to 650 kilometers in seventeen days and established new sustainment records for Red Army operational maneuver forces. Although part of the deep advance resulted from decreased enemy resistance after the initial battles, the distance traversed demonstrated that the Soviet capability for sustaining operational maneuver was double that of 1944 and six times that of 1943.
In East Prussia, more formidable German defenses and difficult terrain adversely affected the operation. The 3d Belorussian Front's thrust toward Königsberg became a prolonged penetration operation until the commitment of a second echelon army unhinged the German defenses. The 2d Belorussian Front, however, succeeded in unleashing its operational maneuver forces. Its army mobile groups advanced on the second day and completed penetration of German tactical defenses. The front mobile group, the 5th Guards Tank Army, entered a wide-open breach in the German defenses on the fifth day. Subsequently, the tank army reached the Baltic Sea, severing communications between German Army Group Center and forces west of the Vistula. After the massive January offensive, over a period of six weeks, Soviet forces defeated troublesome German forces in Pomerania and Silesia that threatened the flanks of the Soviet salient. All the while, the Soviets prepared for the inevitable drive on the German capital.
Spurred on by their concern over the rapid Allied push toward Berlin and the upper Elbe River, the Stavka began their Berlin strategic offensive in mid-April. After a hasty, but major regrouping of forces, on 16 April Zhukov's 1st Belorussian and Konev's 1st Ukrainian Fronts began the Berlin operation in the form of a classic double envelopment of German forces defending the city. Attacking from the Kuestrin bridgehead directly toward Berlin, Zhukov ordered his army mobile groups to penetrate German defenses and two front mobile groups (the 1st and 2d Guards Tank Armies) to encircle Berlin from the north. Konev ordered his tank armies (the 3d and 4th Guards) to advance south of Berlin as soon as the rifle armies and their mobile groups had penetrated German tactical defenses.
The two assaults, however, developed in dissimilar fashion. Zhukov committed his tank armies on the first day, before his forces penetrated the dense German tactical defenses. The resulting crush of concentrated manpower and weaponry was so great and the German defenses so effective that a prolonged, costly penetration battle ensued virtually all the way to Berlin, during which all of Zhukov's tank forces simply provided infantry support. On the other hand, Konev's infantry and armor broke cleanly through the German tactical defenses and exploited so successfully that they earned for Konev the honor of participating in the seizure of Berlin. Although the Soviets relied on time-honored and combat-proven methods for employing their mobile forces in the Berlin operation, Zhukov experienced major difficulties and failed to fulfill his mission in the requisite time or manner. Although Konev's forces operated successfully, they experienced similar difficulties to a lesser extent. The Berlin offensive made it apparent that armored and mechanized forces structured to maneuver in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union could not do so effectively in the more heavily urban and forested terrain of Central Europe. After the Berlin operation had ended, the Soviets studied its conduct and recommended force structure changes to overcome these problems in the future.
Between the months of January and August of 1945, Germany saw the largest incident of mass rape known in history, where an estimated two million German women were raped by the Soviet Red Army soldiers, as written by Walter Zapotoczny Jr. in his book, ‘Beyond Duty: The Reason Some Soldiers Commit Atrocities’.
Between the months of April and May, the German capital Berlin saw more than 100,000 rape cases according to hospital reports, while East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia saw more than 1.4 million rape cases. This caused the deaths of no less than 200,000 girls and women due to the spread of diseases, especially that many eyewitnesses recounted victims being raped as much as 70 times in that period. Hospital reports also stated that abortion operations were being carried out daily across all German hospitals.
Red Army soldiers would mass rape German women as a kind of revenge against their enemy: The German army. They felt that it was their earned right to do so as the German army had ‘violated’ their motherland by invading it. In addition to not being in contact with women for long periods causing their animal instinct to be heightened.
Miriam Gebhardt, a German historian and the author of the book "Crimes Unspoken: The Rape of German Women at the End of the Second World War", noted that "The discussion and investigation of certain issues became possible only after the fall of the Berlin Wall [in 1989]... Moreover, it was more important for Germany to comprehend its own crimes committed during the war and the Holocaust in the first place."
Modern society has recently become more receptive to the theme of the sexualized military violence, according to the German historian. She opined that this could be caused the overall improvement of the situation concerning women's rights.
Commenting on the motivation behind sexual abuse by foreign soldiers in Germany, the historian outlined two major reasons."Sexualized military violence always has different motives and functions," she said. "In general, it's about weakening the enemy and consolidating own army forces through the concealment of crimes."
The German edition of Gebhardt's book, "Als die Soldaten kamen: Die Vergewaltigung deutscher Frauen am Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs," which was published in 2015, busted the most persistent myth of the Second World War, which claimed that Soviet soldiers had committed numerous sexual crimes raping German women of virtually all ages, while their American, British and French allies behaved decently.
However, according to the historian, out of 860,000 of German women who had fallen prey to sexualized military violence, 270,000 were raped by the USSR's Western allies, with most crimes committed by American troops. Gebhardt destroyed yet another myth, saying that Red Army soldiers had sexually assaulted up to 2 million women in Germany: The author pointed out that Russian military servicemen were actually involved in about 590,000 rape cases.
At the same time, it is noteworthy that the numbers of the Red Army and the armies of its Western allies in Europe differed significantly. At the beginning of the Berlin operation, Soviet forces were comprised of 10 million soldiers, while the British and American military contingents deployed in mainland Europe amounted to 1,35 million and 3,3 million people, respectively.
The historian admitted that military commanders of the Red Army, as well as their British and American, counterparts strictly forbade sexual violence and punished their soldiers harshly for these crimes.
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