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The Western Group of Forces (WGF),[a] previously known as the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany (GSOFG)[b] and the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG),[c] were the troops of the Soviet Army in East Germany. The Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany was formed after the end of World War II in Europe from units of the 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts. The group helped suppress the East German uprising of 1953. After the end of occupation functions in 1954 the group was renamed the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. The group represented Soviet interests in East Germany during the Cold War. After changes in Soviet foreign policy during the late 1980s, the group shifted to a more defensive role and in 1988 became the Western Group of Forces. Russian forces remained in eastern part of Germany after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the German reunification until 1994.

Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany
(1945–54)
Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
(1954–88)
Western Group of Forces
(1988–94)
GSSD-LOGO.svg
Soviet Army marking present on GSFG vehicles
Active1945 – 1994
Country Soviet Union (1945–91)
 Russia (1991–94)
Branch
TypeGroup of forces
Part of
HeadquartersWünsdorf (now in Zossen)
Commanders
Notable
commanders
See list
Commemorative medal, Group of Soviet Forces in Germany 1945 – 1994.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Period Native designation German English
Short Long version Short Long version Short Long version
1945–1954 ГСОВГ Группа советских оккупационных войск в Германии GSBD Gruppe der Sowjetischen Besatzungstruppen in Deutschland GSOFG Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany
1954–1988 ГСВГ Группа советских войск в Германии GSSD Gruppe der Sowjetischen Streitkräfte in Deutschland GSFG Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
GSTD Gruppe der Sowjetischen Truppen in Deutschland
1988–1994 ЗГВ Западная группа войск WGT Westgruppe der Truppen WGF Western Group of Forces

The Group of Soviet Occupation Forces, Germany was formed after the end of World War II in Europe from formations of the 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts, commanded by Georgy Zhukov. On its creation on 9 June 1945 it included:[1]

An order of 29 May 1945 had ordered the disestablishment of the 47th, 77th, 80th, 89th, 25th, 61st, 91st, 16th, 38th, 62nd, 70th, 121st, and 114th Rifle Corps, and of the 71st, 136th, 162nd, 76th, 82nd, 212th, 356th, 234th, 23rd, 397th, 311th, 415th, 328th, 274th, 370th, 41st, 134th, 312th, 4th, 117th, 247th, 89th, 95th, 64th, 323rd, 362, 222, 49th, 339th, 383rd, 191st, 380th, 42nd, 139th, 238th, 385th, 200th, 330th, 199th, 1st, 369th, 165th, 169th, 158th, and 346th Rifle Divisions.[2] The 89th Rifle Division was not disbanded and instead transferred to the Caucasus.[3]

In January 1946, the 2nd Shock Army left the Soviet Zone. A month later, the 47th Army was disbanded, with its units withdrawn to the Soviet Union. In October the 5th Shock Army was disbanded. In 1947 the 3rd and 4th Guards Mechanized Divisions (Mobilization), former mechanized armies, arrived in the group from the Central Group of Forces. In 1954 the 3rd Shock Army became the 3rd Red Banner Combined Arms Army (Russian: 3-я краснознаменная общевойсковая армия).[4] The 3rd Guards Mechanized Army became the 18th Guards Army on 29 April 1957. On the same day, the 4th Guards Mechanized Army became the 20th Guards Army.[3]

After the abolition of the occupation functions in 1954, the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany became known as the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSVG) on 24 March. The legal basis for the GSVG's stay in East Germany was the Treaty on Relations between the USSR and the GDR of 1955.[5]

Withdrawals from East Germany in 1956 and 1957/58 comprised more than 70,000 Soviet army personnel, including 18th Guards Army Staff.

The GSFG had the task to ensure for the adherence to the regulations of the Potsdam Agreement. Furthermore, they represented the political and military interests of the Soviet Union. In 1957 an agreement between the governments of the USSR and the GDR laid out the arrangements over the temporary stay of Soviet armed forces on the territory of the GDR, the numerical strength of the Soviet troops, and their assigned posts and exercise areas. It was specified that the Soviet armed forces were not to interfere into the internal affairs of the GDR, as they had done during the East German uprising of 1953.

Following a resolution of the government of the Soviet Union in 1979 and 1980, 20,000 army personnel, 1,000 tanks and much equipment were withdrawn from the territory of the GDR, among them the 6th Guards Tank Division, with headquarters at Wittenberg.

 
Organization as of 1988.

In the course of Perestroika the GSFG was realigned as a more defensive force regarding strength, structure and equipment. This entailed a clear reduction of the tank forces in 1989. The GSFG was renamed the Western Group of Forces on 1 June 1989.[6] The withdrawal of the GSFG was one of the largest peacetime troop transfers in military history. Despite the difficulties, which resulted from the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the same period, the departure was carried out according to plan and punctually until August 1994. Between the years of 1992 and 1993, the Western Group of Forces in Germany (along with the Northern Group of Forces), halted military exercises.

 
Abandoned Soviet Army barracks in Stendal, 1991.
 
Soviet military equipment being loaded aboard a ferry in Rostock, March 1991.

The return of the troops and material took place particularly by the sea route by means of the ports in Rostock and the island of Rügen, as well as via Poland. The Russian Ground Forces left Germany on 25 June 1994 with a military parade of the 6th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade in Berlin. The parting ceremony in Wünsdorf on 11 June 1994 and in the Treptow Park in Berlin on 31 August 1994 marked the end of the Russian military presence on German soil.

In addition to German territories, the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany operational territory also included the region of town of Szczecin, part of the territories transferred from Germany to Poland following the end of the Second World War. The rest of Poland fell under the Northern Group of Forces, while the southern regions (Austria, Czechoslovakia) were under the Central Group of Forces.

Generals directing the withdrawals from Germany diverted arms, equipment, and foreign monies intended to build housing in Russia for the withdrawn troops. Several years later, the last GSFG commander, General Matvei Burlakov, and the Defence Minister, Pavel Grachev, had their involvement exposed. They were also accused of ordering the murder of reporter Dmitry Kholodov, who had been investigating the scandals.[7]

Structure and equipment in 1991Edit

 
Soviet watchpost in Wittenberg, 1991.
 
Disposition of Soviet armies in eastern Germany, 1991.
 
Names of Red Army soldiers carved into a tree in a forest near Jena. The names include Sasha, Pilya and Kebya and date from 1954 to 1987.

The Soviet troops occupied 777 barracks at 276 locations on the territory of the German Democratic Republic. This also included 47 airfields and 116 exercise areas. At the beginning of 1991 there were still about 338,000 soldiers in 24 divisions, distributed among five land armies and an air army in what was by then the Western Group of Forces. In addition, there were about 208,000 relatives of officers as well as civil employees, among them about 90,000 children. Most locations were in the area of today's Brandenburg.

In 1991 there were approximately 4,200 tanks, 8,200 armored vehicles, 3,600 artillery pieces, 106,000 other motor vehicles, 690 aircraft, 680 helicopters, and 180 rocket systems.[8]

See also

At the end of the 1980s, the primary Soviet formations included:[9]

Other Group-level formations included:

Commanders-in-Chief of the GSFGEdit

 
Memorial at the Airport in Großenhain.

The first three Commanders-in-Chief were also Chiefs of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany.

GSOFG, 1945–54Edit

Commander-in-Chief Took office Left office Time in office
1Zhukov, GeorgyMarshal of the Soviet Union
Georgy Zhukov
(1896–1974)
9 June 194521 March 1946285 days
2Sokolovsky, VasilyMarshal of the Soviet Union
Vasily Sokolovsky
(1897–1968)
22 March 194631 March 19493 years, 9 days
3Chuikov, VasilyMarshal of the Soviet Union
Vasily Chuikov
(1900–1982)
1 April 194926 May 19537 years, 55 days
4Grechko, AndreiMarshal of the Soviet Union
Andrei Grechko
(1903–1976)
27 May 195316 November 19574 years, 173 days

GSFG, 1954–88Edit

Commander-in-Chief Took office Left office Time in office
1Grechko, AndreiMarshal of the Soviet Union
Andrei Grechko
(1903–1976)
27 May 195316 November 19574 years, 173 days
2Zakharov, MatveiMarshal of the Soviet Union
Matvei Zakharov
(1898–1972)
17 November 195714 April 19602 years, 149 days
3Yakubovsky, IvanMarshal of the Soviet Union
Ivan Yakubovsky
(1912–1976)
15 April 19609 August 19611 year, 116 days
4Konev, IvanMarshal of the Soviet Union
Ivan Konev
(1897–1973)
9 August 196118 April 1962252 days
5Yakubovsky, IvanMarshal of the Soviet Union
Ivan Yakubovsky
(1912–1976)
19 April 196226 January 19652 years, 282 days
6Koshevoy, PyotrMarshal of the Soviet Union
Pyotr Koshevoy
(1904–1976)
27 January 196531 October 19694 years, 277 days
7Kulikov, ViktorMarshal of the Soviet Union
Viktor Kulikov
(1921–2013)
1 November 196913 September 19711 year, 316 days
8Kurkotkin, SemyonMarshal of the Soviet Union
Semyon Kurkotkin
(1917–1990)
14 September 197119 July 19723 years, 308 days
9Ivanovski, YevgeniArmy General
Yevgeni F. Ivanovski
(1918–1991)
20 July 197225 November 19805 years, 128 days
10Zaitsev, MikhailArmy General
Mikhail M. Zaytsev
(1923–2009)
26 November 19806 July 19854 years, 222 days
11Lushev, PyotrArmy General
Pyotr G. Lushev
(1923–1997)
7 July 198511 July 19861 year, 4 days
12Belikov, ValeryArmy General
Valery Belikov [ru]
(1925–1987)
12 July 198612 November 1987 †1 year, 123 days

WGF, 1988–94Edit

Commander-in-Chief Took office Left office Time in office
1Chuikov, VasilyArmy general
Boris Snetkov
(1925–2006)
26 November 198713 December 19903 years, 17 days
2Chuikov, VasilyColonel general
Matvey Burlakov [ru]
(1935–2011)
13 December 199031 August 19943 years, 261 days

WGF military sovietEdit

Members (June 1993):[15]

  • Commander-in-Chief of the WGF – colonel general М. P. Burlakov
  • 1st deputy commander-in-Chief of the WGF – colonel general A. N. Mityukhin
  • Deputy commander-in-Chief of the WGF for the withdrawal of forces – lieutenant general С. В. Тshernilevsky
  • WGF chief of staff – lieutenant general A. V. Теretev
  • Deputy commander-in-Chief of the WGF for logistics – lieutenant general W. I. Isakow
  • Deputy commander-in-Chief of the EGF for armament – major general W. N. Shulikov
  • Commander of the 16th Air Army – lieutenant general A. F. Tarasenko

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Russian: Западная Группа Войск, ЗГВ, romanizedZapadnaya Gruppa Voysk, ZGV.
  2. ^ Russian: Группа Советских Оккупационных Войск в Германии, ГСОВГ, romanizedGruppa Sovietskih Okkupatsionnyh Voysk v Germanii, GSOVG.
  3. ^ Russian: Группа Советских Войск в Германии, ГСВГ, romanizedGruppa Sovietskih Voysk v Germanii, GSVG.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Feskov et al 2013, p. 380
  2. ^ Stavka Order No. 11095
  3. ^ a b Feskov et al 2013, pp. 381–382
  4. ^ a b Michael Holm, 3 Red Banner Combined Arms Army, February 2015.
  5. ^ Feskov et al 2013, p. 382
  6. ^ Chris Lofting & Kieron Pilbeam, 'Sperenburg,' Air Forces Monthly, February 1995, p.42
  7. ^ Odom, William E. (1998). The Collapse of the Soviet Military. Yale University Press. p. 302. ISBN 0-300-07469-7. On p.468, fn 130, Odom cites as his sources Komsomolskaya Pravda, 20 October 1994, and RFE/RL Daily Report, 24 October 1994, 2 November 1994, and 8 November 1994.
  8. ^ Zabecki, David T. (28 October 2014). Germany at War: 400 Years of Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 570. ISBN 9781598849813.
  9. ^ Steven J. Zaloga (1989) Tank War-Central Front – NATO vs. Warsaw Pact. Osprey Elite Series No 26. p. 13. ISBN 0-85045-904-4
  10. ^ Holm 2015/Feskov et al 2013.
  11. ^ "16th Air Army". www.16va.be. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  12. ^ Michael Holm, 16th Guards Fighter Aviation Division Archived 1 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Michael Holm, 125th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division, accessed September 2011
  14. ^ Michael Holm, 35th Landing-Assault Brigade
  15. ^ Members of the WGF military soviet, Wünsdorf in June 1993г; Moskow, «Jung guar», 1994; Soviet Forces in Germany 1945-1994: remembrance album … page 113; ISBN 5-235-02221-1.
  • Feskov, V.I.; Golikov, V.I.; Kalashnikov, K.A.; Slugin, S.A. (2013). Вооруженные силы СССР после Второй Мировой войны: от Красной Армии к Советской [The Armed Forces of the USSR after World War II: From the Red Army to the Soviet: Part 1 Land Forces] (in Russian). Tomsk: Scientific and Technical Literature Publishing. ISBN 9785895035306.

Further readingEdit

  • William Durie, " The United States Garrison Berlin 1945-1994", (Mission Accomplished, Aug 2014 ISBN 978-1-63068-540-9 (English).
  • Freundt, Lutz (1998). Sowjetische Fliegerkräfte Deutschland 1945–1994 (Band 1) [Soviet Aviation Forces in Germany 1945–1994 (Volume 1)] (in German). Diepholz: Freundt Eigenverlag. ISBN 3-000014-93-4.
  • Scott and Scott, The Armed Forces of the USSR, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1979
  • Roter Stern über Deutschland, Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk und Stefan Wolle, Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin, 2001, ISBN 3-86153-246-8. This German book, The Red Star over Germany, Soviet troops in the GDR, presents 49 years of the Soviet Army stationed in East Germany.

External linksEdit