Belgrade operation

Members of the Red Army in the liberated Belgrade, on October 20, 1944, at Terazije in front of the Palace of Albania.

Belgrade operation (or offensive Belgrade) was one of the largest and most significant battles in the Balkans during World War II. The operation lasted from 21 September to 22 October 1944, when the occupying forces expelled to the line where the artillery could not beat Belgrade. The Belgrade operation was part of the extensive operational plan of the NOVJ and the Third Ukrainian Front of the Red Army, relying on operations in eastern Serbia. The Belgrade operation consolidated two armies on October 10, near Velika Plana. The decisive battle began two days later and lasted until October 20, 1944, when Belgrade finally was released. The combined units of the NOVJ and the Red Army inflicted a heavy defeat on the German Army Group "Serbia" in this operation, liberated Belgrade and a large part of Serbia.

Map of Offensive

German Plan and preparation of defense

Following a failure to prevent the NOVJ from penetrating Serbia, the Southeast Command planned to deploy operations that its operational group, with the help of JVuO (Yugoslav Army in the Homeland), would break down the NOVJ forces in Serbia in September. However, the appearance of the predecessor of the Red Army forced the Southeastern Command to transfer its operational group to eastern Serbia in September, so in Central and Western Serbia the burden of defense from the NOVJ fell to the JVoO and the SDK(Serbian volunteer corps), with insufficient help from the Germans.

German soldiers on the established positions of the external defense of Belgrade, October in 1944.

According to Hitler's order of 3 October 1944, the Southeast Command was supposed to establish the front line Skadar - Skopje - the Djerdap Gorge (the so-called blue line) with the Army Group E and parts of the Second Armored Army. However, the movement of the Army Group E was stalled, and the withdrawal of relatively small parts from area 2. Okla (Second Panzer Army) led to a significant loss of territory and positions.

Belgrade operation (from 14 to 20 October 1944)

In these circumstances, preparations were made for the defense of Belgrade. Nedic's government was dissolved and the entire administration was taken over by the German commander of Serbia. Nedic's forces and corps of JVuO, which was useful in hindering the NOV on the ground. As useless in the crucial frontal combat, they were transported by trains and trucks 3-5. October from Belgrade to Cacak and Kraljevo. There, Nedic's forces were transformed into the Serbian Strike Corps and placed under Mihailovic's command.

Destroyed tanks in front of the palace of Albania, October 1944.

In Belgrade itself and the environment, all the measures for a defensive defense have been taken. Feste Belgrad (Feste Belgrad - Fortress Belgrade) was formed and reinforced in the division under the same name (later: Stephan Division). From the reserve forces for defense, two corps groups were formed: the North under the command of General William Schnekenburger, and the southern, under the command of Friedrich Wilhelm Miller. The command over them and the "Fortress of Belgrade" were united by General August Felber, the Southeastern Commander of the Southeast and the Commander of the Army Group of Serbia (from October 6, 1944).

Street fighting in Belgrade

Plan of the attack by the Red Army and the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia (NOVJ)
The plan for the attack that made the headquarters of the Third Ukrainian Front awarded the maximum rational use of scheduling combat resources of the Red Army and Partisan:

Reinforced Rifle Corps was tasked with frontally suppressing and destroying the Germans.

Red Army tank in Belgrade

During that time, the 4th Guard Mechanized Corps had to be concealed from the deep background, and, in a forced march forcing the Great Morava, and thus in Sumadija, joining with the collected forces NOVJ, formed a superior armored and mechanized infantry combat group.

Tank Column (T-34) of the Red Army in the break to the city center during the battle for Belgrade, October 17, 1944

German forces

Battlegroup "Šnekenburger", named after the commander General William Šnekenburgeru (Willi Schneckenburger, died on October 13, 1944). It consisted of the following units:
2 battalions from the 750th regiment of the 118th Jager Division
Regiment "Fortress of Belgrade" (later Division for special purposes "Štefan")
Brigade "von Rudno"
parts of the 737th regiment of the 117th Jager Division
Supplementary Battalion of the 7th SS Division "Prince Eugen"
28. Landeswich-Battalion
several police battalions
a mining protective battalion from Kostolac
38th motorized anti-aircraft artillery regiment
several divisions of artillery of the 2nd armored army
202 tank battalion
parts of the 5th Motorized Police Regiment

Battlegroup "Štetner" (Ritter von Walter Stettner Grabenhof, killed 10.18.1944.). It consisted of:

1st mountain division
2nd Regiment "Brandenburg"
749th Regiment 117th Jager Division
117th reconnaissance battalion
one battalion of the 7th SS Division
parts of police units from eastern Serbia

The total strength of this group was over 20,000 people, 35 tanks and about 150 guns and mortars.

Partisan units on the future Republic Square in the liberated Belgrade in 1944.

Soviet forces

In the liberation of Belgrade, the following units of the Red Army participated:

4th Guard Mechanized Corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Zdanov, composition: 13th, 14th and 15th Mechanized and 36th Tank Brigade, 230th Artillery Regiment, 140th mortar Regiment, 58th Regiment of Guardian Mortars, 42nd Hunting Anti-tank Artillery brigade, 22th anti-aircraft artillery division and 218th independent engineering battalion
5. Independent Guards Motorized Brigade
73. Rifle Division
236. Rifle Division
4. The Guards Mechanized Corps, together with the reinforcement units, had 17,022 combatants, 160 tanks, 21 self-propelled artillery weapons, 31 armored cars, 366 guns and mortars in its composition. The Rifle Division had between 7,500 and 8,000 fighters.

Tank Column (T-34) of the Red Army in the break to the city center during the battle for Belgrade, October 17, 1944.

Partisan forces

The first army group NOVJ, under the command of general-general Pek Dapcevic, consisted of:

The first proletarian division
Fifth Krajina Division
The sixth proletarian division "Nikola Tesla"
11th Krajina Shock Division
16. Vojvodina Shock Division
21st Serbian Shock Division
28th Slavonian Shock Division
36th Vojvodina Shock Division
The 23rd Shock Division was also involved in the operation. On October 5, these units had 32,000 combatants underarms. Thanks to the constant influx of volunteers, this number is up to 14 October rose to around 40,000.

Partisan cavalry in the street Ivo Lola Ribara in the liberated Belgrade in 1944.

Fighting for Belgrade

On October 14, 1944, the Belgrade operation entered the final phase. The invading forces concentrated on the course of the city from all directions: the XII Corps of the NOVJ from the west and the southwest, to the right of it, from the south, the First Proletarian Corps, from the eastern 5th and 21st divisions of the NOVJ. These units are in-situ formed combined attack ensembles with parts of armored and mechanized units of the Red Army.

Street fighting for liberation of the City

During the morning of October 14, the First Proletarian Division, strengthened by Soviet tanks, won the Banjski Vis and continued its advancement in the direction of Autokomanda and Slavija.
During the 14th and 15th of October, a large part of the city was liberated. The enemy held only in its northwestern part, along the line: the Danube Railway Station - the Botanical Garden - the National Assembly - Terazije - a building block of ministries - the Main Railway Station, as well as in Čukarica, where German units were cut off from their forces in the city.

On the eve of preparations for liberation, in the city, there were resistance groups with about 2000 people. First from the left, leader of one of the groups, Ratko Ivanovic, in street fighting in Octo

On the night of 15 October, the attack on the "Štetner" group from the direction of Smederevo appeared on the positions of the 5th and 21st divisions of the NOVA and the Soviet unit. These units tended to tie in with the group that defended themselves in the city center. With extreme persistence, they penetrated through Zvezdara, along the Boulevard of King Alexander and through Konjarnik. Extreme fighting has developed. Their attack was stopped at great losses. During the 16th of October, the Second Proletarian Brigade of the NOVA and the 36th Guards Tank Brigade of the Red Army took the counter-attack against this group, encircled and destroyed one of its units in the vicinity of the Vojislav Ilić School.

Armed Belgraders conduct captured Germans.

Faced with dramatic losses and faced with the certainty of failure, General Štetner decided to maneuver. Leaving all machinery, on October 17, he directed his group south of Belgrade with the intention of trying to break into Belgrade from the south, the Topcider River Valley. At the same time, on the morning of 17 October, reinforced forces from Belgrade launched an attack towards the south, meeting the Štetner group. This attack, however, was rejected.

Krajina at the grave of a fallen comrade in the battle for the liberation of Belgrade

In the confrontation with these forces, the group of General Štetner was broken down and largely destroyed. General Štetner died in the fighting on Avala on October 18, and his remaining forces in the following days broke into the German bridgehead in Šabac, were they attacked and destroyed by units of the XII Corps and the 31st Serbian Brigade.

Battlefield after the battle in Knez Milos October in 1944.

During the 17th and 18th October, in the direction of Kalemegdan, the 8th Brigade of the 1st Proletarian Division, along with the Red Army units, came to the "Albania" building, and the 1st Proletarian Brigade won the building of the National Theater and Ratnički dom.

Soviet General Vladimir Zhdanov and Yugoslav General Peko Dapcevic in October 1944 in liberated Belgrade.

At dawn on October 20, the remaining German forces from Belgrade routinely retreated across the Sava bridge to the left bank, disturbed by Soviet aviation and artillery. The engineers made preparations to pull down the bridge after pulling down their units. However, this plan was banned by retired teacher Miladin Zarić. He lived near the bridge, in Karadjordjeva Street no. 69. Having had a mining experience from the Balkan Wars, he noticed the right moment, stepped out to the bridge and cut his wires.

German prisoners by the Red Army fighters during the battle for Belgrade.

The German surprise immediately took advantage of parts of the 13th Guards Mechanized Brigade and parts of the 814th and 211th Rifle regiment of the Red Army, First Lichka and the 13th Proletarian Brigade, crossed the bridge and, with the support of artillery from Kalemegdan, formed a bridgehead on the left bank of the Sava River.

The first proletarian shock brigade in Belgrade in October in 1944.

The result of the operation

On October 20, after six days of heavy fighting, Belgrade was finally free. A lot of citizens went out on the streets to greet the liberators with enthusiasm.

German soldiers withdraw from Belgrade

In the battles for the liberation of Belgrade from 14 to 20 October, 2953 were killed Partisan fighters and about 960 Red Army soldiers. Most of the dead soldiers were buried at the Liberation Cemetery in Belgrade.

The German armed forces had about 15,000 killed, including both commanding generals, and 9,000 captured.

The Liberation of Belgrade Medal

More than 20,000 people were killed in fierce fighting in the final phase of the Belgrade operation. At this stage, the Belgrade battlefield became part of the Eastern Front. The fighting was characterized by the cruelty and fierceness characteristic of the Second World War on the territory of Yugoslavia, permeated with the cruelty and the fierceness of the Eastern Front.



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