Operation Bagration was the Soviet offensive launched in June 1944, just after the Allied landings in Normandy. Its aim was to destroy German Army Group Centre and clear the way to Berlin. The Red Army assembled a force of 2.3 million men, ten times the size of the Allied forces that launched the D-Day offensives. On 19 June the Soviets’ sophisticated attack began with behind-the-lines sabotage, followed by massive airstrikes and rapid troop movements, leaving isolated, encircled pockets of German troops ordered disastrously by Hitler to stand firm and fight to the death. By 28 June the German 4th and 9th Armies and 3rd Panzer Division had been largely destroyed. The German Army Group Centre collapsed and on 4 July the Soviets liberated Minsk. In August, they further advanced to Lithuania, Romania and Poland, reaching the River Vistula and bringing Warsaw within striking distance. Hitler had lost some 350,000 men.
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