The retreat of the German troops turned into a real flight. The number of defectors grew every day, especially many of them were among the militias. As a result, the German command allowed the officers to apply extreme measures to deserters. Oblavnye team combed the rear. In the order of the commander of the German army 6 th General of the tank forces Hermann Balck said that "deserters expect death and shame."
Adolph Hitler, enraged by the defeat of the Wehrmacht in Hungary, in the Carpathians and in the Bratislava region, on April 6 replaced its commander O. Völler with L. Rendulich. Lothar Rendulich led German troops in Yugoslavia, Norway and Finland, was the commander of Army Groups North and Kurland in the Baltic States, commanded a new Army Group North, transformed from the Center group. Rendulich distinguished himself in a number of operations and was considered to be specialists in defensive operations. In addition, the German commander was born in Austria, began serving in the Austro-Hungarian army, after the collapse of Austria-Hungary, served in the Austrian army and knew the theater of military operations. The German command hastily hurried reinforcements and hoped to stop the Soviet troops at the serious natural turn - the Morava River. To obstruct the advance of the Red Army, all the bridges on the river were destroyed.
After being defeated near Bratislava, the German divisions, under pressure from the troops of the 2 of the Ukrainian Front, retreated further west and north-west. However, the operation has not yet been completed. Before the Soviet troops found mountains and water barriers, fortifications behind which was the most important industrial center of Czechoslovakia - Brno. The capture of Brno, along with the storming of Vienna, became the immediate task of our troops. Brno was an important communications hub, administrative and industrial center where the Škoda and Zbroevka military factories were located, and a large arsenal.
The swift advance of our troops did not allow the Germans to consolidate on the Morava. Already on 5 on April, the 25-I Guards Rifle Division from the 7-th Guards Army of Shumilov forced this water barrier along the way and captured the bridgehead on the west bank. April 7 riders Pliev took another bridgehead near the city of Břeclav. On April 12, in the Hodonín area, the 53-I army of Managarov came out to Morava. On the same day, she crossed the Morava River and seized the beachhead. The next day, the army Managarova took the city of Hodonin. German troops made desperate counterattacks, trying to push our troops across the river, but without success. By mid-April, the German line of defense on the Morava River finally collapsed. As a result, the prerequisites for the liberation of the Brno Industrial Area were created.
The city of Brno decided to take mobile tank and cavalry units in combination with the frontal offensive of combined arms units. On April 16, after the victorious completion of the Vienna operation, Malinovsky was returned to the 6th Guards Tank Army Kravchenko. The decisive role in the operation to capture Brno was to be played by the 53rd Army of Managarov, the 6th Guards Tank Army Kravchenko and the Guards Horse-Mechanized Group Pliev. These formations constituted the front's strike force. Managarov’s army was strengthened by two rifle corps - the 18th Guards and 50th Rifle Corps, the 1th Mechanized Corps was included in the 7st Guards KMG Pliev. Kravchenko’s tank army was strengthened by the 2nd Guards Mechanized Corps and the 83rd Marine Corps.
The Soviet command linked major strategic plans with the capture of Brno. The Red Army received the possibility of a wide maneuver to defeat the remaining enemy forces. So the 2-th Ukrainian front could reach the flank and rear of the 1-th German tank army in the region of Olomouc and, in cooperation with the troops of the 4-th Ukrainian front, destroy it. And most importantly, with the capture of Brno, opened a direct path to Prague.
The German command, after losing the Moravian frontier, in an effort to keep the Brno industrial area at all costs, created additional defensive lines and resistance nodes. The banks of the Svratka and Svitava rivers, which covered Brno from the south-east, south and south-west directions, were fortified. For the defense of the city were allocated large forces: two tank, motorized, several infantry and cavalry divisions. The garrison reinforced armored vehicles and artillery. From the air the city was covered by fighters.
Initially, the 6-I Kravchenko Guards Tank Army acted on the left flank of the 2-th Ukrainian Front, advancing in the direction of the city of Znojmo. For three days, the tankers fought hard against the enemy in conditions of very rough terrain, where there were many settlements that were turned into strongholds. The tank army got involved in protracted battles for enemy strongholds, which deprived it of its main trump card - maneuverability. Over the three hard battles 6-I Guards Tank Army advanced only 15-20 kilometers.
As a result, Kravchenko decided to transfer the tank army to the aid of the 53-th army of Managarov and the 1-th Guards Mounted-Mechanized Pliev group. The forces of Managarov and Pliev at that time successfully broke into the enemy's defenses in the Brno area and were already 20 kilometers from the city. On April 21, the tank army was instructed to withdraw from the battle and secretly regroup for the two days the offensive of the 53 Army. Soviet troops were preparing for a decisive blow to Brno, which was scheduled for April 23. Kravchenko's 6-I Guards Tank Army was supposed to bypass the city from the southeast, and Pliev's horse-mechanized group would cover Brno from the south-west.
Managarov's 53 Army attacked the city from the south. At the center of its military formations was 18-th Guards Rifle Corps, General I. M. Afonin. It was a tried and tested military unit, which went through a glorious military way from Kursk, Kiev and the Dnieper to the storming of Budapest and the liberation of Vienna. By April 20, the guards were transferred from the Vienna area to Czechoslovakia. For the assault on the city, the Afonin Guard Corps was reinforced by two breakthrough artillery divisions, two mortar and one anti-tank brigade, two regiments of guard mortars. On the right wing of the 53 Army, east of the Svratka River, the 49 Infantry Corps of Major General N. N. Terentyev was advancing on Slavkov and the forest north-east of Brno. On the left wing of the army, between the Svratka and Jihlava rivers, the 50 Infantry Corps was moving towards the western outskirts of Brno. 6-th Guards Tank Army planned to enter into battle in the offensive zone of the 18-th Guards and 49-th corps.
On the morning of April 23, at the observation post of the commander of the 18th Guards Rifle Corps, which was located near the front line, Malinovsky Commander arrived, with Fomin, chief of artillery of the front, Seleznev, chief of staff of the 5th Air Army, and other commanders. They had to coordinate the interaction of the troops. At 10 a.m. hit the Katyusha and thousands of guns and mortars of various calibers. The artillery and aviation training. Soviet attack aircraft and bombers in large groups of 20-40 aircraft attacked enemy positions. Then, with the support of the tanks, the infantry marched forward.
The front edge of the enemy defense quickly crushed. However, in the depths of the defensive orders the Germans put up stubborn resistance. The remaining firing points fired. In some places the German infantry went up to counterattacks. By the middle of the day, the entire tactical zone of the enemy defense was broken. Brno's outer defense ring was hacked. Malinovsky introduced the 6 th Guards Tank Army into the breakthrough. In the first echelon, the 2 and 9 th Guards Mechanized Corps attacked, in the second echelon the 5 Guards Tank Corps. Around 120 tanks and self-propelled guns went ahead, breaking the resistance of the enemy.
On the morning of April 24, Soviet tankers reached the nearest approaches to the city. The second echelon of the army - 5-Guards Tank Corps, began the battle for the eastern and south-eastern outskirts of Brno. The battle was fierce. The Germans, relying on a developed suburban, urban and industrial infrastructure, put up fierce resistance. German troops turned into counterattacks, threw into the battle all the remaining reserves, including tank cadets, clung to each position, height. The fighting did not stop even at night. On the outskirts of Brno, the Guards Tank Army lost a quarter of its vehicles. The army command regrouped and created a new strike force from parts of the 5 tank and 9 mechanized corps.
Meanwhile, the 1-I Guards Horse-mechanized group Plieva successfully developed the offensive and bypassed Brno. 25 April, the 18-th Guards Rifle Corps came to the city. Assault groups broke into the outskirts of Brno, and violent urban fighting began. Soviet infantry went to the Svitava River. With the help of improvised means, the fighters of the 109 th rifle division forced the river, behind it the 317 th, 52 th and 243 th division were crossed Svitava.
April 26 Soviet tankers and infantry broke through to the city center. Meanwhile, the 2 Guards Mechanized Corps of the Kravchenko Army advanced to the northeastern outskirts of Brno, and Pliev’s cavalry-mechanized group to the southwestern and western margins of the city. As a result, our troops cut off the enemy’s escape route from Brno. By the end of the day the city was completely cleared of the Nazis.
Moscow celebrated this victory with a solemn salute, and Rodion Malinovsky was awarded the highest Soviet commander of the Order of Victory. The title of Hero of the Soviet Union was received by the commander of the front artillery Fomin, commanders Managarov, Goryunov, corps commanders Afonin, Grigorovich, Ostashenko, Sviridov, Akhmanov.
Troops of the 2 of the Ukrainian Front in the liberated city of Brno
The battle in the direction of Olomouc
After the storming of the city, units of 53 and 6 of the Guards Tank Army were withdrawn from the city and on April 27 they launched an offensive against Olomouc, towards the troops of the 4 of the Ukrainian Front. The strike force of the 2 of the Ukrainian Front was to take Olomouc by May 2 and go to the flank and rear of the 2 of the German Tank Army. In the Olomouc direction, the fighting continued until May 5.
German troops, retreating from the Brno area, took up defenses north and northeast of the city. The German command concentrated additional forces on the Olomouc direction in order to prevent the troops of the 2 and 4 of the Ukrainian fronts from joining and retaining the important communications hubs of Olomouc, Prosteev, Vyskov. Through these cities passed important roads along which the Wehrmacht could carry out a maneuver with forces. In order to stop and bleed our troops, the Germans hastily prepared new defensive lines, built fortifications along rivers, on the heights, mined roads, bridges, defiles, and created anti-tank obstacles. Localities prepared for defense. A serious line of defense of the enemy took place in the area of Pratzen Heights, which once became famous for the “Battle of the Three Emperors” (the Battle of Austerlitz). In addition, the most important role in the defense of the enemy was played by the city of Slavkov (formerly Austerlitz), which protected Olomouc.
The assault on the Pratzen Heights began with the 24 th Bratislava Guards Rifle Corps under the command of Major General A.Ya. Kruze. The Bratislava Corps 26 of April was transferred from the 7-th Guards Army of Shumilov to the 53-th Army of Managarov. After the 30-minute artillery preparation, our troops launched an assault on enemy positions. During the stubborn battle, beating off enemy counterattacks, our troops broke through the German defenses on Pratzen heights and by the end of April 27 took Slavkov.
On April 28, two mechanized corps of the Kravchenko 6 Guards Tank Army were introduced into the breakthrough. However, the corps of the tank army had a large shortage of tanks, which dramatically reduced the strike power of the Kravchenko army. This affected subsequent events in a negative way. The Soviet tank crews had to fight hard with the enemy, who constantly counterattacked in an effort to prevent the 2 tank army from encircling east of Olomouc. The German command constantly strengthened the defenses of the Olomouc direction.
1 May Kravchenko brought the third army corps into battle - the 5-th Guards Tank Corps. Our troops took the city Vyshkov. The German command also introduced additional forces into the battle - two tank and two infantry divisions, strengthening the defense of the tank and training infantry divisions that had already fought on this sector.
Thus, the 6-I Guards Tank Army was tied up by heavy fighting in very rough terrain. It became clear that its use is inexpedient. The headquarters ordered the withdrawal of Kravchenko’s army from the battle. She was supposed to take part in the Prague operation. 6-I Guards Tank Army on the night of May 6 surrendered their positions rifle compounds. However, she fulfilled her role by opening the way to Prostejov and Olomouc. The strike of the Kravchenko and Managarov armies allowed the 4-th Ukrainian Front to successfully complete the Moravian-Ostrava operation. This operation was completed.
27 Guards Rifle Corps Evgeny Stepanovich Alyokhin
As a result of the operation, the troops of the 2 of the Ukrainian Front won a complete victory. Our troops broke through the enemy defenses at the borders of the Hron, Nitra, Vah and Morava rivers, moving forward 200 kilometers. Important industrial regions were liberated - the Bratislava and Brno industrial areas. The Soviet armies completed the liberation of Slovakia, freeing its capital - Bratislava. The troops of the 2 of the Ukrainian Front contributed to the successful offensive of the neighboring 4 of the Ukrainian Front by their actions.
The victory of the Soviet troops in the Vienna and Bratislava-Brnovskoy operations led to the collapse of the entire strategic southern flank of the Wehrmacht. Our troops opened the way to the central regions of Czechoslovakia, to Prague. The troops of the 2 and 4 of the Ukrainian fronts, who advanced deep into Czechoslovakia, created a threat to the encirclement of the German Army Group Center.
During this operation, the Red Army lost about 80 thousand people, of which irrecoverable losses - about 17 thousand people. Among the dead was the commander of the 27-th Guards Rifle Corps Yevgeny Stepanovich Alekhin. He was fatally wounded on April 22 1945 during an enemy air raid. The losses of the German troops are unknown. 9 of enemy divisions was defeated.
Officers of the 604 th communications battalion of the 227 rifle division in the city of Brno on Victory Day