Northern Eurasia 1944: Operation Bagration
In June 1944 the Allies landed in France, re-opening the Western Front. At the same time, the Russians pushed into Belarus and Poland. Under Soviet pressure, Romania, Bulgaria, and Finland turned against Germany.
23 Jun–19 Aug 1944 Operation Bagration▲
On 23 June 1944 the Soviet Red Army attacked German Army Group Centre in Byelorussia, with the objective of encircling and destroying its main component armies. By 28 June the German Fourth Army had been destroyed, along with most of the Third Panzer and Ninth Armies. The Red Army exploited the collapse of the German front line to encircle German formations in the vicinity of Minsk, destroying them and liberating Minsk. With the end of effective German resistance in Byelorussia, the Soviet offensive continued further to Lithuania, Poland and Romania over the course of July and August.
19–25 Aug 1944 Liberation of Paris▲
With the approach of the US 3rd Army under General George Patton, the French Forces of the Interior (FFI)—the military component of the French Resistance—staged an uprising against the German garrison in Paris. While the Germans were skirmishing with the FFI, Free French forces entered the city on the night of 24 August, followed by General Philippe Leclerc’s 2nd French Armored Division and the US 3rd Army on the morning of the 25th. Despite Hitler’s orders to destroy the city, the German garrison surrendered at 3:30 pm that day.
23 Aug 1944 King Michael’s Coup▲
Following months of secret negotiations with the Soviet Union, Romanian opposition politicians, led by the Communist Party, persuaded King Michael to remove pro-Nazi Prime Minister Ion Antonescu from office. On 23 August 1944, Antonescu was removed and replaced by General Constantin Sanatescu, and Romania joined the Allies. A German invasion, Operation Margarethe II, was planned but not implemented.
4–5 Sep 1944 Soviet-Finn Ceasefire▲
Following the Finnish victory in the battle of Ilomantsi in August 1944, the Soviet Union brought its offensive in Finland to a halt and ended its demand for Finland’s unconditional surrender. To allow for a peace treaty, Finnish President Ryti resigned and the new government requested a ceasefire in late August. The ceasefire came into effect on 4 September for the Finns, with the Soviets ending hostilities exactly 24 hours later.
9 Sep 1944 Bulgarian Coup D’État of 1944▲
In August of 1944, the government of Axis-aligned Bulgaria declared neutrality. But following a Soviet invasion of war on September 5, the Bulgarian Army seized power in Sofia, appointing the resistance leader Kimon Georgiev as Prime Minister and declaring war on Germany.