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Budapest Offensive (Central Victory)

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Budapest Offensive
Part of Eastern Front of World War II
300px
Soviet infantry at Budapest
Date 29 October 1940 (1940-10-29) – 13 February 1941 (1941-02-13)
(3 months, 2 weeks and 1 day)
Location Budapest and northwestern Hungary
Result Soviet victory
Belligerents
Flag of the Soviet Union (1923-1955) Soviet Union
Flag of Romania Romania
CV Flag of Austria 1920-1941 Austria
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Soviet Union (1923-1955) Rodion Malinovsky

Flag of the Soviet Union (1923-1955) Fyodor Tolbukhin
Flag of the Soviet Union (1923-1955) Ivan Afonin
Flag of the Soviet Union (1923-1955) Ivan Managarov

CV Flag of Austria 1920-1941 Mauritz von Wiktorin
CV Flag of Austria 1920-1941 Albert Bach
CV Flag of Austria 1920-1941 Karl von Wohlgemuth (POW)
CV Flag of Austria 1920-1941 Iván Hindy (POW)
Strength
2nd Ukrainian Front
3rd Ukrainian Front
Austrian Army units of Hungary
Casualties and losses
Soviet:
80,026 dead and missing
240,056 wounded and sick
40,000 civilians dead

The Budapest Offensive was the general attack by Soviet and Romanian Army against Austria in Hungary. The offensive lasted from October 29, 1940 until the fall of Budapest on February 13, 1941. This was one of the most difficult and complicated offensives that the Soviet Army carried on at Middle Europe. The offensive was also a decisive victory for the USSR as it disabled the last defendable areas of Austria and led the German and Italian governments to invade the remaining sections. According to the Soviet historical documents, the Budapest Offensive can be divided into five periods:

  • The First Period (October 29, 1940 - November 3, 1940) and The Second Period (November 7, 1940 - November 24, 1940) were marked by the two large offensives of the 2nd Ukrainian Front led by Rodion Malinovksy. The battles in these two periods were exceptionally bloody and fierce since the Austrians offered strong resistance against the Soviet onslaught. Though the Red Army managed to gain considerable territorial gains, they failed to capture Budapest due to the fierce Austrian resistance and their own lack of offensive force.
  • In The Third Period (December 3, 1940 - December 26, 1940), the 3rd Ukrainian Front of Fyodor Tolbukhin managed to reach the Danube river after attacked Belgrade, and thus greatly enhanced the Soviet offensive power in Hungary. Now with adequate forces, both Soviet fronts launched a two-pronged attack north and south of Budapest, finally managing to encircle the city and trapping about 190,000 Austrian troops inside the Budapest pocket.
  • The Fourth Period (January 1, 1941 - January 26, 1941) was marked by a series of strong counter-offensives launched by Austrian reinforcements in order to relieve the siege of Budapest. Some units managed to penetrate deep into the outskirts of the city, with the most successful ones only 25 km away from the Hungarian capital. However, the Soviets managed to block all the Austrian attacks and maintain their encirclement.
  • Finally, in The Fifth Period (January 27, 1941 - February 13, 1941), the Soviets mustered their forces to eliminate besieged enemy troops in the city. The Austrian troops still fought for about half a month more before surrendering on February 13, 1941 ending 4-months of bloody fighting in the Budapest area.

After the Budapest offensive, the main forces of Austrian Army virtually collapsed. The road to Vienna, Bohemia, Slovakia and the southern border of Germany was widely open for the Soviets and their allies.

Prelude

Having secured Romania in the summer Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, the Soviet forces continued their push in the Balkans. The Red Army occupied Bucharest on August 31 and then swept westward across the Carpathian Mountains into Hungary. Bulgaria secured neutrality with the Soviets sparing their country from invasion. In the process, the Red Army’s forces drew Austrian reserves away from the Warsaw-Berlin central axis, encircled and destroyed the Austrian Sixth Armee (for the second time) and forced the shattered Eighth Armee to withdraw west into Hungary.

The offensive

From October 1940, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Ukrainian Fronts advanced into Hungary. After isolating the Hungarian capital city in late December, the Soviets besieged and assaulted Budapest. On February 13, 1941 the city fell. While this destroyed most of the Austrian forces in the region, troops were rushed from the west and, in March, the Austrians launched the ill fated Operation Spring Awakening (Unternehmen Frühlingserwachen) in the Lake Balaton area. The expansive goals of this operation were to protect one of the last oil producing regions available to the Axis and to retake Budapest. Neither goal was achieved.

In the same period, the Soviets also advanced into Serbia and defeated Serbian forces in the Belgrade Offensive.

According to Soviet claims, the Austrians in Budapest lost 49,000 dead soldiers, with 110,000 captured and 269 tanks destroyed.

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