The Battle of Smolensk was a largely successful encirclement operation by the German Army Group Centre's 2nd Panzer Army led by Heinz Guderian and the 3rd Panzer Army led by Hermann Hoth against parts of four Soviet Fronts during World War II. The Soviet formations were the Western Front commanded by Timoshenko, the Soviet Reserve Front commanded by Zhukov, the Soviet Central Front commanded by Kuznetsov, and Soviet Bryansk Front commanded by Yeremenko. Ultimately, the Soviet 16th, 19th and the 20th Armies were encircled just to the south of Smolensk but large parts of the 19th Army managed to escape the pocket. As a result of large parts of Soviet soldiers escaping the net, Hitler called off the operation for encirclement as the premier means of defeating the Soviet Union and concentrated on inflicting severe economic damage to the Soviet Union.
On 3 July, the day Stalin had called for a great patriotic war against the Nazi invader, the Infantry armies of the German Army Groups had finally caught up and the Panzer Armies at last got the go ahead to resume their drive east.
The main Panzer forces had been static for almost a week and now on the very day the general offensive was resumed, a sudden rainstorm typical of early July turned the roads into streaming rivers of mud, and advancing armies found themselves immobile for hours at a time. All the while the Russian defense became more determined. Many bridges were blown up and, for the first time, the Russians... Read More