At the beginning of August 1944, when the Red Army reached East Prussia, neither Stalin nor anyone else in his entourage suspected that the conquering of the easternmost province of the Third Reich would take more than eight months and would cost an enormous amount of effort and the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. The first two attempts of the young Soviet General Chernyakhovsky to penetrate deep into the enemy territory failed miserably, which, in turn, forced Stalin to redeploy considerable forces to that area and allow them to prepare thoroughly for the final assault. The assault in question commenced in the small hours of 13 January 1945 and continued for almost four months. It would go down in history as one of the most ferocious battles of World War II. This new study by the Bulgarian author Kamen Nevenkin scrutinizes that third and final attempt by powerful Soviet forces to capture East Prussia. Using a considerable number of German archival documents, as well as formerly classified Soviet General Staff studies, the author discusses in detail all aspects of the battles that took place in East Prussia from January to April 1945 including the objectives, plans and buildup prior to the offensive, the opening onslaught of the Red Army, the initial Soviet penetration of the front and subsequent breakout and onward drive, including the bitter fighting for Konigsberg, the destruction of the German 4th Army and the closing stages of the offensive around Samland. Special attention is paid to the decision-making processes in the headquarters of the two opposing forces. Thanks to the author's utilization of a variety of primary sources, objective answers to some central questions are given, as well as the debunking of a number of resistant myths that have emerged in the post-Second World War period. The text is well supported by a number of photographs, maps, references, tables and detailed appendices, including orders of battle.
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Kamen Nevenkin was born and lives in Sofia, Bulgaria. His interest in the Second World War dates back to his early childhood, but it was only in the year 2000 when he decided to turn professional. In the years that followed he devoted himself to hard work, mastering languages, studying and collecting a wealth of archival materials. The latter included several onsite visits of the military archives in Freiburg, Germany. The first result of all these efforts was a reference book dedicated to late-war German panzer divisions, 'Fire Brigades'. The book received excellent reviews all over the world and became an instant hit with fans of military history. Over the past couple of years, Kamen Nevenkin has focused his research exclusively on the battles on the Eastern Front in 1944-1945. Despite the narrowing of the focus of his research, he remains faithful to the principles he had followed while writing 'Fire Brigades', namely - working with archival documents, ignoring the myths imposed on the public for decades and adopting a bias-free approach to the themes he is researching. In his work, he is guided by the principle of the balanced approach and by his belief that since there are two sides in a battle, the viewpoints of both opponents should be made known to the public. His language skills include English, Russian, German, as well as some other East European languages.
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