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Thursday, 2 April 2015

Stalin’s Favorite. Volume 1: January 1943-June 1944: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army from Kursk to Berlin

Stalin’s Favorite. Volume 1: January 1943-June 1944: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army from Kursk to Berlin

This is the first detailed combat history of any Soviet unit available in the English language known to the author. The 2nd Tank Army was not an ordinary force; by 1945 it was an elite Guards formation which played a decisive role in the Soviet offensive operations of that year and whose tanks were the first to enter Berlin's streets. The Army commander, Colonel-General Semen Bogdanov, became a Marshal of Armored Troops and was promoted to the position of Chief Commander of all armored and tank units of the USSR shortly after the war, and remained in this position until 1953. 2nd Guards Tank Army remained in Germany until 1993, a period of 48 years. It is the only Soviet Tank Army of the war that still exists today, now named 2nd Guards Army.

This study is based on the rarely available operational documents of the Army from the Central Archives of the Russian Defense Ministry and provides an analysis of every battle it fought in World War II. This includes Operation Citadel North (Kursk), Sevsk, Cherkassy, Tyrgul-Frumos and Jassy, Warsaw, Vistula-Oder, Pomerania (including Sonnenwende) and Berlin. What also differentiates this book is that it was created in cooperation with the senior army general (Anatoly Shvebig) who was an active participant in all the Army's engagements. Another unique point is that the combat operations are covered from both sides in a scope and scale that has never previously been attempted. The day by day coverage of events, honest views of the Army's commanders, full statistical data (including unit strengths, movements, and casualties for each operation from both Russian and German points of view), and the 'human element' based on the exciting firsthand reminiscences of Soviet tank officers all make this study an incredibly valuable source of information on tank battles fought on the Eastern Front 1943-1945. According to Major-General Anatoly Svebig, deputy commander of 12th Guards Tank Corps within the 2nd Guards Tank Army, this is the best study on any Soviet unit he has ever seen in his long life!

Volume 1 focuses on the first half of the Army's service in the Great Patriotic War. 2nd Tank Army was created in January 1943. In spring and summer of 1943 it was engaged in the fierce battles at Sevsk and Kursk. Combat experience was heavily paid for in blood. The Army played a critical role in containing a strike of the German III. Panzerkorps in February 1944, aimed at rescuing units in the Cherkassy pocket. In March-April 1944 2nd GTA carried out a deep raid to Uman and was amongst the first Russian units that crossed the Romanian border. In May-June 1944 Army was engaged in combats at Tyrgul Frumos and Jassy against strong German armored forces belonging to 'Grossdeutschland' and 24. Panzer-Division. The text is fully supported by specially commissioned color maps and an extensive selection of photographs, many from private collections in Russia. Volume 2 will provide a detailed record of the Army for the remainder of World War II, including its elevation to Guards status later in 1944.

Stalin’s Favorite. Volume 2: From Lublin to Berlin, July 1944-May 1945: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army from Kursk to Berlin