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The Battle of Moscow, also called the Fall of Moscow, was an assault on the Soviet Union's capitol of Moscow by the Axis Powers in July 1941. After the success of Operation Barbarossa, the Germany Army closed in on Moscow. It was defended by the Red Army, and after a month of close combat, the combined forces of the Axis overran Red Army defenses. Stalin himself evacuated with the Soviet leadership to the southern city of Ufa. The battle was a turning point in the war. The Soviet Union was pushed back to the Ural Mountains in 1943, and the Nazis set up a puppet regime called the Russian Republic.
In June 1941, the German high command launched Operation Barbarossa, which was highly successful. German armies, backed by units of their Axis allies, advanced far into the Soviet Union, overrunning the defending armies. The cities of Kiev and Minsk, capitols of the Ukrainian and Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republics, fell to the advancing Axis forces. Two puppet regimes, the Ukrainian Republic and the Belarusian Republic, were established in occupied Belarus and Ukraine. As they were being established, the German 8th, 11th, and 16th Armies began moving in on Moscow, with the V Panzer Corps. They were aided by the Hungarian Second Army, the Romanian Fourth Army, the 339th Croatian Infantry Regiment ("Croatian Legion"), and the Slovak First Army.
After taking the surrounding cities and towns, the Axis forces prepared to strike. In late May, the Soviet leadership evacuated the city, and relocated to the southern city of Ufa. Stalin coordinated the defense from there, and the overall field commander was Marshal Georgy Zhukov. The Soviet 14th, 21st, 25th, and 30th Armies were mobilized for the defense of Moscow, aided by the 26th and 32nd Air Armies of the Soviet Air Force. The city was heavily fortified, and the command set themselves up in the Kremlin. General Aleksandr Vasilevsky led directly from the front.
The German forces were led by General Hienz Guderian, the Hungarians were commanded by General Gusztáv Jány, while the Croatian Legion was led by Lieutenant Colonel Marko Mesić. After a few days of planning, they decided to begin the attack on July 2.
The Nazi plan for the attack on Moscow was dubbed Operation Typhoon. The combined armies of Army Group Center attacked on the morning of June 2. They met fierce resistance, and took heavy casualties. The German commanders, at the end of the day, moved the Hungarian Second Army and Romanian Fourth Army to spearhead the attack, in order to limit German casualties. They did so, and the Romanians and Hungarians managed to push a bit into Moscow, though were held back by the Soviet Air Force. The Luftwaffe and the Axis air forces had battled the Soviet Air Force earlier, but were unable to secure air superiority. Additional fighter units had been requested and sent to Moscow by the Oberkommand Luftwaffe (OKL).
The Germans then pushed into the city on 4 July. They were met with intense Soviet resistance, and though the Soviet air forces were busy engaging the Luftwaffe and thus were unable to aid the Soviet Army. The Germans and their allies pushed further into the city, beating back the Soviet 14th and 25th Armies. However, Zhukov unleashed a trap with the 45th Tank Army, which decimated the Axis left flank (which was guarded by Hungarians) and opened a gap there. The Soviet 2nd Shock Army rushed into the gap, and the Germans had to patch it up, stalling them until 9 July. The advance continued afterwards, and by 14 July had conquered a third of the city. However, the Soviet forces were determined to hold their capitol.
After more losses, the Axis reached the Kremlin on 20 July. Stalin and his government evacuated earlier and left to nearby Kostroma, from which they would leave further east. The Soviet 14th Army defended the Kremlin, but they were pushed back. Hitler ordered his forces to not damage the Kremlin, as he intended to use it as a personal retreat and as a headquarters for a future Russian puppet government he planned on setting up after the USSR had been conquered. After the Kremlin was secured, the Red Army held onto the city for seven more days until the Axis drove them out to the outskirts. The retreated northeast and southeast.
The loss of Moscow heavily demoralized the Soviet public. On the bright side, the Axis casualties were higher than the Soviets', something which rarely happened. Hitler allowed Andrey Vlasov, a defected Red Army general and leader of the Russian Liberation Army, to create a puppet regime in Moscow. In his Moscow Manifesto, Vlasov stated his intent on establishing a country for Russians, something not seen since the
Russian Republic's overthrow in the October Revolution of 1917. The new state was also called the Russian Republic.
Stalin and his government evacuated to the nearby city of Kostroma, to the northeast, in order to avoid capture. On 28 July, they fled to the city of Ufa, in the southeast. There, Stalin said that the war would go on, and that the USSR would not back down. The German leadership realized then that the Soviet government itself needs to be eliminated, and by 21 September, plans for an assault on Ufa were being drafted by the high command. Moscow became the capitol of the new Russian Republic, which provided some 70,000 troops to aid the Germans.