The Budapest Offensive was the general attack by Soviet and Romanian Army against Nazi Germany and their Axis allies from Hungary. The offensive lasted from 29 October 1944 until the fall of Budapest on 13 February 1945. This was one of the most difficult and complicated offensives that the Soviet Army carried on at Middle Europe. The offensive was also a decisive victory for the USSR as it disabled the last European political ally of Nazi Germany and greatly sped up the process of ending World War II in Europe. According to the Soviet historical documents, the Budapest Offensive can be divided into five periods:
- The First Period (29 October 1944 - 3 November 1944) and The Second Period (7 November 1944 - 24 November 1944) were marked by the two large offensives of the 2nd Ukrainian Front led by Rodion Malinovksy. The battles in these two periods were exceptionally bloody and fierce since the Germans offered strong resistance against the Soviet onslaught. Though the Red Army managed to gain considerable territorial gains, they failed to capture Budapest due to the fierce German resistance and their own lack of offensive force.
- In The Third Period (3 December 1944 - 26 December 1944), the 3rd Ukrainian Front of Fyodor Tolbukhin managed to reach the Danube river after liberated Belgrade, and thus greatly enhanced the Soviet offensive power in Hungary. Now with adequate forces, both Soviet fronts launched a two-pronged attack north and south of Budapest, finally managing to encircle the city and trapping about 190,000 German and Hungarian troops inside the Budapest pocket.
- The Fourth Period (1 January 1945 - 26 January 1945) was marked by a series of strong counter-offensives launched by German reinforcements in order to relieve the siege of Budapest. Some German units managed to penetrate deep into the outskirts of the city, with the most successful ones only 25 km away from the Hungarian capital. However, the Soviets managed to block all the German attacks and maintain their encirclement.
- Finally, in The Fifth Period (27 January 1945 - 13 February 1945), the Soviets mustered their forces to eliminate besieged enemy troops in the city. The German troops still fought for about half a month more before surrendering on 13 February 1945, ending 4-months of bloody fighting in the Budapest area.
After the Budapest offensive, the main forces of Army Group South virtually collapsed. The road to Vienna, Czechoslovakia and the southern border of Germany was widely open for the Soviets and their allies.
Having secured Romania in the summer Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, the Soviet forces continued their push in the Balkans. The Red Army occupied Bucharest on 31 August and then swept westward across the Carpathian Mountains into Hungary and southward into Bulgaria. In the process, the Red Army’s forces drew German reserves away from the Warsaw-Berlin central axis, encircled and destroyed the German 6. Armee (for the second time) and forced Army Group South Ukraine’s shattered 8. Armee to withdraw west into Hungary.
From October 1944, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Ukrainian Fronts advanced into Hungary. After isolating the Hungarian capital city in late December, the Soviets besieged and assaulted Budapest. On 13 February 1945, the city fell. While this destroyed most of the German forces in the region, troops were rushed from the Western Front and, in March, the Germans launched the ill fated Operation Spring Awakening (Unternehmen Frühlingserwachen) in the Lake Balaton area. The expansive goals of this operation were to protect one of the last oil producing regions available to the Axis and to retake Budapest. Neither goal was achieved.
In the same period, the Soviets also advanced into Yugoslavia and defeated German forces in the Belgrade Offensive, in cooperation with Yugoslav partisans.
According to Soviet claims, the Germans and Hungarians in Budapest lost 49,000 dead soldiers, with 110,000 captured and 269 tanks destroyed.
- Glantz, David M., and Jonathan House. When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1995. ISBN 0-7006-0899-0) p. 298
- Krivosheev, G. F. Soviet casualties and combat losses in the Twentieth Century. (London: Greenhill Books, 1997. ISBN 1-85367-280-7) p. 152
- Самсонов, Александр Михайлович Крах фашистской агрессии 1939-1945. — М.: Наука, 1980. (Russian)
- Минасян, М. M. Освобождение Юго-Восточной и Центральной Европы войсками 2-го и 3-го Украинских фронтов 1944-1945. Издательство "Наука", Москва, 1970. (Russian)
- Наша Победа. День за днем - проект РИА Новости
- Siege of Budapest
- Operation Spring Awakening (Unternehmen Frühlingserwachen)
- Soviet occupation of Hungary
- David M. Glantz, The Soviet‐German War 1941–45: Myths and Realities: A Survey Essay.
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