The 1941 Battle of Smolensk In 20 Stunning Pictures

 
German tanks PzKpfw IV in Vitebsk, 130km from Smolensk [Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-351-1427-21A / Jakobsen [Jacobsen] / CC-BY-SA 3.0].
German tanks PzKpfw IV in Vitebsk, 130km from Smolensk [Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-351-1427-21A / Jakobsen [Jacobsen] / CC-BY-SA 3.0].
 
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The Battle of Smolensk was a large-scale battle during the opening stages of the Nazi German invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, in World War II.

It was the first battle where the Soviet Union was able to significantly delay the whole German Wehrmacht offensive which attacked toward Smolensk. The German Force consisted of the 2nd Panzer Army, commanded by Heinz Guderian, and the 3rd Panzer Army of Hermann Hoth.

The Soviets deployed against the invaders under the command of Semyon Timoshenko, the Reserve Front of Georgy Zhukov, the Central Front of Fyodor Kuznetsov and the Bryansk Front of Andrey Yeryomenko.

In the end, the entire soviet 16th, 19th, and 20th armies became encircled from the East and the North of Smolensk, even though a significant amount of soldiers managed to escape the pocket.

Some historians have asserted that the losses in terms of men and materiel incurred by the Wehrmacht during this drawn-out battle, together with the 2-month delay in their march towards Moscow, were one of the reasons they were defeated by the Red Army in the Battle of Moscow three months later.

According to German reports, casualties reached 250,000 during the Battle of Smolensk. The Soviet defenders paid a high price for the resistance as well. The majority of the city lay in ruins when the Germans finally occupied it.

In 1985, Smolensk was awarded the title Hero City for the fierce resistance.

A pair of German Messerschmitt BF-109E in flight over Smolensk [Via].
A pair of German Messerschmitt BF-109E in flight over Smolensk [Via].
Aerial view of the Smolensk area. Photo made by a German aerial reconnaissance [Via].
Aerial view of the Smolensk area. Photo made by a German aerial reconnaissance [Via].
Battle of Smolensk. T-26 tanks during advance. August 1941 [Via].
Battle of Smolensk. T-26 tanks during the advance. August 1941 [Via].
Soviet soldiers near Smolensk, July 1941 [Via].
Soviet soldiers near Smolensk, July 1941 [Via].
Anti-Aicraft crew in the city of Smolensk [Via]
Anti-Aicraft crew in the city of Smolensk [Via]
Red Army artillery crew attacking German tanks on their way to Smolensk [Via]
Red Army artillery crew attacking German tanks on their way to Smolensk [Via].
Soviet soldiers during fights at the railway station [Via].
Soviet soldiers during fights at the railway station [Via].
Crew of the Soviet tank BT-7 before the Battle of Smolensk. July 1941 [Via].
Crew of the Soviet tank BT-7 before the Battle of Smolensk. July 1941 [Via].
Infantry observes an advance of Soviet tanks T-26 near Smolensk. August 191 [Via]
Infantry observes an advance of Soviet tanks T-26 near Smolensk. [Via]
Soviets during an attack against Wehrmacht. July 1941 [Via]
Soviets during an attack against Wehrmacht. July 1941 [Via]
A Soviet soldier teaching partisan fighters how to operate a Browning Hi-Power handgun, near Smolensk. 23 August 1941 [Via].
A Soviet soldier teaching partisan fighters how to operate a Browning Hi-Power handgun, near Smolensk. 23 August 1941 [Via].
The headquaters of the 16th Army near Yartsevo area [Via]
The headquarters of the 16th Army near Yartsevo area [Via]
German troops in a town near Mogilev at the Dnieper, on their way to Smolensk [Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-137-1032-14A / Kessler, Rudolf / CC-BY-SA 3.0]
German troops in a town near Mogilev at the Dnieper, on their way to Smolensk [Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-137-1032-14A / Kessler, Rudolf / CC-BY-SA 3.0]
German motorized division during advance on Smolensk. Note German anti-armour gun PaK 36 [Bundesarchiv, Bild 101III-Cantzler-026-11 / Cantzler / CC-BY-SA 3.0]
German motorized division during the advance to Smolensk. Note German anti-armour gun PaK 36 [Bundesarchiv, Bild 101III-Cantzler-026-11 / Cantzler / CC-BY-SA 3.0]
German motorized troops during the advance. 1 June 1941 [Bundesarchiv, Bild 101st-136-0883-29A / Cusian, Albert / CC-BY-SA 3.0]
German motorized troops during the advance. 1 June 1941 [Bundesarchiv, Bild 101st-136-0883-29A / Cusian, Albert / CC-BY-SA 3.0]
Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, commander of the Army Group Centre (left) in conversation with General Hermann Hoth, commander of 3rd Armoured Group and General Wolfram von Richthofen. 8 July 1941 [Bundesarchiv, Bild 101st-265-0048A-03 / Moosdorf [Mossdorf] / CC-BY-SA 3.0]
Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, commander of the Army Group Centre (left) in conversation with General Hermann Hoth, commander of 3rd Armoured Group and General Wolfram von Richthofen. 8 July 1941 [Bundesarchiv, Bild 101st-265-0048A-03 / Moosdorf [Mossdorf] / CC-BY-SA 3.0]
Soviet POWs after the Battle of Smolensk [Via]
Soviet POWs after the Battle of Smolensk [Via]
Soviet POWs are trasported to Nazi Germany. Most of them didn't survived [Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-267-0124-20A/ CC-BY-SA 3.0].
Soviet POWs are transported to Nazi Germany. Most of them did not survive. [Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-267-0124-20A/ CC-BY-SA 3.0].
Hitler met with von Bock at Army Group Centre's headquaters on 4 August 1941. Altrough von Bock pressed for an immediate advance on Moskow, Hitler directed that economic resources on Ukraine were a greater strategic priority [NARA].
Hitler met with von Bock at Army Group Centre’s headquarters on 4 August 1941. [NARA].

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German Soldiers in burning Smolensk

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