The other D-Day: Operation Bagration launched on 21-22 June 1944

“There were two D-days in June 1944. The landings in Normandy on 6 June, Operation Overlord, recalled so movingly a fortnight ago, are part of British national memory. The other D-day remains virtually unknown both here and in America. Yet it was equally important in ending the second world war. And it also marked the dawn of cold war Europe.

On the night of 21-22 June 1944 the Red Army launched its summer offensive in Belorussia, three years to the day after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. In 1941 the Germans had achieved total surprise, encircling millions of Russian troops and thrusting right up to Moscow and Leningrad. In 1944, however, the tables were turned. Operation Bagration, named for a Tsarist marshal who had fought Napoleon, hit the Wehrmacht with no warning.

In five weeks, the Red Army advanced 450 miles, driving through Minsk to the outskirts of Warsaw and tearing the guts out of Hitler’s Army Group Centre. Nearly 20 German divisions were totally destroyed and another 50 severely mauled – an even worse disaster than Stalingrad.”

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