After the Germans’ initial advance towards Moscow in 1941, followed by a winter stalemate, the Russians launched a series of new offensives aimed at pushing the Germans out of the area at the beginning of 1942. Hitler’s stubborn refusal to allow his troops to retreat to more tenable positions resulted in the formation of the Rzhev salient which jutted towards Moscow. The Russians were able to capitalize on this weak point, launching the Rzhev-Vyazma Strategic Offensive Operation on 8 January. The Soviet forces in the area massively outnumbered the Germans and because of the ground gained over winter were able to launch an attack on three sides, with the added assistance of Soviet partisans acting against the Germans from behind their own lines. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the Germans managed to hold on to the salient for months. The Soviets planned a final large scale offensive for July.
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