Smolensk, The Final Battle
June 1944, the invasion of France has failed, Operation Overlord is beaten back by the German Army with great loss of life on the Allied side.
Decisive has been the decision by Hitler to position his Panzer Divisions right behind the suspected landing site. With a minimum delay and hardly harassed by Allied Airpower (for fear of “friendly fire”), the deadly panzers hit the Allied troops in their most vulnerable position: exposed on the beaches.
After two days of bitter fighting, the AEF had to be taken of the beaches and brought back to the UK, the Great Gamble had failed.
Because of this failure and the high loss of lives with the American units, congress put pressure on the President to re-call the troops in the UK, to put them to use in the Pacific. Before the end of 1944, most US Forces had left England again. Only bomber forces of the 8th AF and within 2ATAF remained to bomb Germany into submission.
Directly after throwing the Allies in the sea, Hitler ordered the restructuring of the German armed forces. Most units were brought back to Germany to rearm and regain strength. Only a few weak infantry divisions stayed in France, knowing that it would take the Allies at least a year before trying another invasion of the Continent.
Part of the divisions that returned to Germany in July and August 1945 were send to the East Front immediately. In November 1945 they fought the Red Army to a standstill near Warsaw in what is called “The Battle of the Bulge”.
Field Marshall Von Manstein forced Stalins forces on the defensive. During the months that followed, German industry succeeded in re-arming an important part of the Panzer Forces and by March 1945 the Wehrmacht once again was a powerful tool in trying to break the back of the Red Army and the Soviet state.
The very best commanders Hitler could find, took three army groups: North (Rommel), Ost (Guderian) and South (Von Manstein) and Blitzkrieg again rolled over the Russian plains, the final target: MOSCOW.
The battles in March and April 1945 captured and destroyed the bulk of the Soviet armies. Stalin had only one trump card left: Zhukov, with the Army of the South-West Front. With this Army and some help from the Allies, Zhukov had to stop Guderian near Smolensk. If he failed, the way to Moscow was open and undefended.
The Second Battle of Smolensk
On May 2 1945, the final German offensive opened up. A two pronged attack on Vitebsk (86th Corps) and Orsha (1st SS Pz Corps), supported by airborne operations behind Soviet lines, had the intention of forcing a crossing of the Dvina River and breaking the Russian defences at Smolensk. After that, the way to Moscow would be wide open. As an added bonus, the Red Army had massive logistical dumps near Smolensk, which the Germans could use very well for they continued advance on Moscow.
Just after dawn, the two armies clashed where it had all started some five years earlier: between Vitebsk, Orsha and Smolensk. For most commanders involved it was familiar terrain and the scars from earlier battles were still visible.
Who would be victorious this time? It would seal the fate of a nation: Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.
Best played PBEM or as Germans against AI. [more information and maps at the briefing files that came with your download]
Large Scenario 70 turns, Designer Bas Kreuger
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