War Diary for the year 1944 in WW2.
At the beginning of 1944 the strategic ring around Germany was closed since a long time. The final victory over Soviet Russia had become quite illusory, and it was rather in the Ukraine, now near the Romanian and Polish frontier, and in front of Leningrad in the Baltic States, that the eastern cheek of the pincers was increasingly concentrated on the center of the ‘Fortress Europe‘.
The ‘Fortress Europe’ was originally a creation of Propaganda minister Goebbels, who wanted to gain something positive from the strategic ring, which surrounded the Axis powers, and wanted to give the people a feeling of security. But already this picture revealed the weakness of the Axis powers: How can one defeat an enemy from a besieged fortress? On the other hand, the latter only needs to break the fortress at one point, and the defeat is only a question of time.
This ‘Fortress Europe’ had a ‘wall’, which was about 9,000 miles long. In this way it could hardly be defended against all basic strategic principles. The enemy had only to knock at weak points and the wall would break in there and forces would have to be thrown from one corner of the threatened fortress into the other. This leads to the comparison with a ‘mill’ game.
The ‘Fortress Europe’ had no roof over it either. Therefore, the advantage of the ‘inner line’ was limited by the lack of reserves, threatened connecting lines, and permanently attacked, vital production centers.
Also, holding a fortress also requires the unity of the besieged. This ended at the latest with the arrest of Mussolini and the capitulation of Italy. In the course of 1944 practically all other allies of Hitler followed.
At the beginning of 1944, the Red Army resumed its advance along the entire Eastern Front from Lapland to the Balkans. First, the Crimea, which had been cut off from all land connections since November 1943, had to be evacuated after a long period of resistance from Hitler in front of a Russian assault.
In Finland the Karelian Isthmus and Petsamo were attacked in the north by the Russians. This forced the Finns to leave the war and the retreat of the German Mountain Army from Lapland to northern Norway.
In the spring of 1944 the defenses of the Luftwaffe against the American day-raid attacks of the B-17 Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers finally broke down when the P-51 Mustang escort fighters with auxiliary tanks secured the bombers to all destinations in Germany controlled Europe. When the Americans were still concentrating their strategic bombing raids on the German fuel and synthetic industry, the Wehrmacht became literally ‘out of fuel’.
The divisions of the Red Army were already on the borders of Slovakia, Romania and Poland, when the Allied invasion of Normandy took place on 6 June 1944. The D-Day is carried out under the protection of overwhelming sea and air forces and is successful. And as Rommel predicted, the enemy can not be defeated once he has landed on land.
To this end, it would scarcely have been necessary to make a second landing in the south of France on August 13, 1944.
In the meantime, the German Army Group Center in Russia had to defend a long and bloated front section in Belarus since the setbacks in the Ukraine from winter and spring. As a result it was completely destroyed by the summer offensive of the Red Army on the third anniversary of the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. The losses of the Wehrmacht exceeded by far the Stalingrad victims.
The Russians pushed forward as far as the Vistula and the East Prussian frontier, so that the defeat could no longer be concealed and treason was advanced. In the course of this, the Warsaw uprising took place from the Polish Home Army, whose support Stalin denied, since he had other plans for Poland.
A rebellion of some generals and officers on July 20, 1944, and the planed assassination of Colonel von Stauffenberg to Hitler was then the last attempt from Germany to avert the looming catastrophe. The assassination failed, Hitler survived, and took a terrible revenge against any remaining opposition. Now the Second World War was led to the utmost consequence by the Nazi regime.
By the Russian advance to the Vistula, the German Army Group North was also cut off in the Baltic States, which could no longer retreat to East Prussia due to the refusal of Hitler. Thus, the mass of their units remained in the so-called ‘Kurlandkessel‘ until the end of the war – and for the general strategic situation meaningless.
In Romania the dictator Antonescu was overthrown and dismissed in August, while the Red Army overwhelmed this Balkan country. Again, nearly a complete German army was encircled in Moldova and was captured.
In the meantime the American, British, and Canadian troops broke out of their bridgehead in Normandy, quickly capturing France, reaching the German border near Aachen in October. It was true that the allied air landing at Arnhem, which was supposed ‘to end the war before Christmas’, failed, but the Allied bomber offensive systematically destroyed the German transport and communications network as well as production centers. These terror attacks on the German cities already announced the near end of the war, and under this impression, Romania, Finland, Bulgaria, and Hungary successively rotate opposed to the German Reich.
Hitler, however, still wanted to force the impossible, and created the Volkssturm (Home Guard), for which the ‘last squad’ of children and old men were sent to the approaching fronts.
The surprising Ardennes offensive (Battle of the Bulge) on 16 December 1944 was then Hitler’s last trump. Despite a larger initial success, however, this card was also practically played out after four days and Hitler’s ‘game for the World Rule’ was finally lost.