This week in the War, 28 Feb–5 March 1944: Ukraine, partisans, and Soviet generals Vatutin & Zhukov
Soviet commander of the 1st Ukrainian Front, Nikolai F. Vatutin, January 1944 [Public domain]
This week in the war, the German military on the Eastern Front were anticipating the spring thaw. They hoped that the muddy conditions would cause a slowdown in the Soviet attacks. However, Stalin was determined to remain on the offensive and, in particular, to liberate the remainder of the Ukraine.
However, the struggle for an independent (i.e. self-governing) Ukraine was being fought by Ukrainian partisans, who were fighting the Soviet forces. The partisans had begun fighting the Germans, too, since, despite some early German support, it had become clear that Hitler had no interest in an independent Ukraine.
Soviet general Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, Life magazine, 1944 [Public domain]
This week in the war, on 29 February 1944, Ukrainian partisans ambushed the Soviet commander of the Ukrainian Front, Nikolai Fyodorovich Vatutin. He was badly wounded and died in mid-April.
He was replaced as commander of the Ukrainian Front by the man who would become the most famous Soviet general of the war: Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov.
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