Liberation of Belarus
The Belarusian Strategic Offensive with codename Bagration was one of the largest military operations in the history of mankind. The forces of five Soviet fronts participated in this operation. There were the 1st Baltic front (Ivan Bagramyan), the 1st Belorussian front (Konstantin Rokossovsky), the 2nd Belorussian front (Georgy Zakharov), the 3rd Belorussian front (Ivan Chernyakhovsky), and the 1st Ukrainian front (Ivan Konev). The actions of fronts were coordinated by Marshals Georgy Zhukov and Aleksandr Vasilevsky, the deputies of the Supreme Command. The timing of the offensive was adjusted with the beginning of the allied landings in Normandy.
The shock formations of Rokossovsky and Chernyakhovsky’s fronts rushed in converging directions toward Minsk. A huge gap was created in a German defense, and the German command had no reserves to fill it with. The units of the 5th Guards Tank Army and the 1st Guards Tank Corps approached Minsk and liberated the city on July 3, 1944. Several German divisions were encircled to the east of the city.
52 of the Red Army formations were awarded the honorary title "Minskiy" for their skillful and heroic actions during the liberation of Minsk. The Independence Day of the Republic of Belarus is celebrated on this date.
Continuing the offensive, the Red Army reached Vilnius, the capital of the Lithuanian SSR, on July 8 and began to storm the city. Simultaneously Soviet troops approached Riga, the capital of the Latvian SSR. Further south the formations of the 1st and 2nd Belorussian fronts were moving toward Grodno and Brest and soon reached the borders of Poland and East Prussia. The German Army Group Center (commander – General Field Marshal V. Model) lost 300,000 soldiers only during first 12 days of operation, from June 23 through July 4, 1944.
In a course of operation Bagration the entire territory of Belarus was liberated. The strongest formation of the German Army was pushed westward up to 600 km. 17 German Divisions and 3 Brigades were completely destroyed.