Liberation of Ukraine
The battle of the Dnieper unfolded immediately after the Soviet successes at Kursk and Orel. The river Dnieper was a natural water barrier, along which the enemy had erected the East Wall, the solid line of fortifications which blocked the way of further Soviet advance.
A part of Ukrainian territory was liberated during the first stage of the Battle (August, 26 – September, 30, 1943). The first Red Army units crossed the Dnieper on September 22-23. In addition, the Soviets dropped airborne troops near Kaniv on the night of September 24. To cross the river, the Red Army soldiers used any means available at hand such as boats, rafts, ordinary logs. Despite the cold water, they rushed to win time, to deprive the enemy of a chance to organize resistance on the western bank. The Soviets were suffering heavy losses, partly because the western bank of the river was high and it was very convenient for Germans to fire from it.
The Red Army had secured 23 bridgeheads on the western bank by late September. The fighting for Kiev reached extreme intensity.
The Germans were knocked out of Kiev by 180th Rifle Division (Major General Fyodor Shmelev) and other units of the 1st Ukrainian Front on November 6, 1944. 2,438 Soviet soldiers, officers and generals were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title for crossing of the Dnieper. The Dnieper went down in history as the “River of Heroes”.
As a result of the Dnieper-Carpathian Offensive of the Red Army, which lasted from December 24, 1943 to April 17, 1944, the Wehrmacht Army Group South suffered huge losses, its front was torn, 10 divisions and 1 brigade were almost completely destroyed. The Red Army advanced 250-450 km westward along the 1400-kilometer front and liberated part of Ukraine west of the Dnieper.
During the Lviv–Sandomierz Offensive (July 13 – August, 29, 1944) the Red Army defeated the German Army Group Northern Ukraine and liberated Lviv and Rava-Ruska. The liberation of Ukraine was finalized by East Carpathian Operation (September 8 – October 28, 1944).
About 3 million Soviet soldiers lost their lives in the course of combat operations in Ukraine. Over 700 cities and 28,000 villages in Ukraine were completely or partly destroyed and 10,000,000 people were displaced. The invaders ruined over 16,000 industrial plants.