Defense of Moscow
From the first day of the war, from June 22, 1941, the main objective of the German forces was the capture of Moscow. Active fighting in this direction began on 30 September 1941. Initially, the German leadership planned with this deadline already to end the war, but the resistance of the Soviet forces significantly stymied the advance of their armies.
The first stage of the offensive was the German Operation Typhoon. As a result of this offensive, Bryansk and Kirov were captured, and in the area of the Vyazma River, more than 700,000 Soviet soldiers fell into the encirclement. Of these, more than 600,000 were captured. In the second half of October Mozhaysk was captured, and the German armies approached 100 km to Moscow.
The advance on Moscow was stopped only in early December, after the most capable units of the Soviet army were assembled to defend the capital, including new arrivals division from Siberia. The counter-offensive by the Soviet army began with the Kalinin Operation. As a result of a series of subsequent offensives, Soviet forces liberated Klin, Yelets, and Tula. The Rzhev—Vyazemsk operation of 1942 allowed the German forces to be finally pulled away from Moscow.
A number of experts hold the view that severe and early frosts played their role in the defeat of German troops near Moscow that year, but this factor cannot be consider defining.
Battle of Stalingrad
Failing in the offensive against Moscow, the German command refocused its efforts towards a southern direction. By mid-July 1942, the Wehrmacht armies approached Stalingrad – the most important city on the Volga River. Battles on the Stalingrad direction began on July 17. By early August, the Germans had crossed the Don and became a real threat to Stalingrad.
In late August, battles began in the city’s territory. Fighting in the city and surrounding area continued throughout the summer and fall, and a Soviet counteroffensive began in November. As a result of Operation Ring, Soviet forces surrounded parts of Field Marshal Paulus’s tank army and took them prisoner. The city was protected, but at a high cost – Stalingrad was almost completely destroyed, and Soviet troop losses totaled more than 400,000 people killed and twice as wounded.
The Battle of Stalingrad was also of international importance – the Allied countries realized that a final victory over Hitler was possible.
The Battle of Kursk
Stalingrad was a tipping point in the war in favor of the Soviet army, and the Battle of Kursk cemented this success. As a result of the offensive of Soviet military units in the area of this city, a ledge on the front line was formed, which could be called the Kursk Arc. German forces planned to capture part of the Soviet army in the ring, but this they failed. The
confrontation culminated in the battle near Prokhorovka – one of the largest tank battles in world history. The result of the operation was the liberation of a large part of Ukraine by Soviet forces and the final fracture in the war in favor of