The D-Day of the Eastern Front

While Western Allies invaded Normandy on June 6, 1944, John Wight recalls the coordinated operation by the Red Army to break German resistance in Europe.

Soviet soldiers in Polozk, Belarus, July 4, 1944; propaganda poster on right celebrates the reconquest of the city and urges the liberation of the Baltic from Nazi German occupation. (Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

By John Wight

Operation Bagration, unleashed by the Red Army on 22 June 1944, was the D-Day of the Eastern Front. In scope, size, scale and impact, it was a feat of arms unmatched in World War II.

Crucially, Overlord (D-Day) — which the Western Allies mounted on 6 June 1944 — and Bagration were planned and undertaken as part of a coordinated effort on the part of the Grand Alliance to break the back of German resistance in Europe. This with a determination that was equally held by the Soviets, British and Americans to force the unconditional surrender of Hitler’s Germany.

In his magisterial book Stalin’s Wars Geoffrey Roberts reveals that

“Soviet plans for Operation Bagration were closely co-ordinated with Anglo-American preparations for the launch of the long-awaited Second Front in France. The Soviets were informed of the approximate date of D-Day in early April and, on 18 April, Stalin cabled Roosevelt and Churchill to inform them that ‘as agreed in Tehran, the Red Army will launch a new offensive at the same time so as to give maximum support to the Anglo-American operation.’”

Though both operations were of immense military and strategic importance, Bagration dwarfed Overlord in scale and impact. Launched three weeks after D-Day on the third anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, it began with air attacks on enemy artillery positions and concentrations, guided by partisan units operating behind German lines. The main offensive began on 23 June along a 500-mile front, involving close to 2 million troops.

Operation Bagration was designed to effect the complete liberation of the Soviet territory from the Nazis and destroy the Wehrmacht as a serious fighting force in the East. It achieved all three of those objectives and more.

As British historian and author David Reynolds points out:

“In five weeks the Red Army advanced 450 miles, driving through Minsk to the outskirts of Warsaw and tearing the guts out of Hitler’s Army Group Centre. Nearly 20 German divisions were totally destroyed and another 50 severely mauled — an even worse disaster than Stalingrad.”

He goes on:

“This stunning Soviet success occurred while Overlord was still stuck in the hedges and lanes of Normandy.”

Photo of Vasily Grossman published in the journal Ogonyok in 1941. (Wikipedia Commons, Public domain)

Famed Soviet journalist and author, Vasily Grossman, described with customary force and power the human toll of the Soviet offensive:

“Corpses, hundreds and thousands of them, pave the road, lie in ditches, under the pines, in the green barley. In some places, vehicles have to drive over the corpses, so densely they lie upon the ground.”

Despite the coordination of Operation Bagration with D-Day, and despite the former’s ineffable military and strategic importance, not one mention was made of it during the 75th D-Day anniversary commemorations in Northern France in 2019. Such a glaring and unconscionable omission stands as just one of many shameful examples of historical amnesia on the part of Western governments and ideologues in recent years — people more concerned with politicising history than they are with respecting it.

The valour and courage of the 156,000 troops who landed on the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944 is not in question, nor is that of the thousands of sailors, airmen, and airborne troops who also took part in the landings. Indeed, Operation Overlord was and will likely remain the largest amphibious military assault ever mounted, and also the most successful.

In terms of its ambition, planning and the coordination of the combined military forces of the multiple nations involved, it truly deserves the place in military history that it commands. None other than Soviet leader Joseph Stalin understood the importance and achievement of Overlord, which he set out in a congratulatory telegram to Roosevelt and Churchill at the time:

“As is evident, the landing, conceived on a grandiose scale, has succeeded completely. My colleagues and I cannot but admit that the history of warfare knows no other like undertaking from the point of view of its scale, its vast conception, and its masterly execution.”

From left: Stalin, Roosevelt and  Churchill on the portico of the Soviet embassy during the Tehran Conference in November 1943. (Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

Wind things forward and over seven decades on the parlous quality of statesmanship in the West, with the open violation of the spirit of the Grand Alliance between East and West enshrined in Stalin’s telegram, has never been more lamentable.

The notion that the men who gave their lives on D-Day, and thereafter across Europe on the way to war’s end in 1945, did so in order to give birth to a continent dependent on Washington and in fear of Moscow, is preposterous. The devastation that Russia suffered in the war, the magnitude of the losses the country incurred, demands the respect and reverence of everyone interested in drawing the right lessons from this epic struggle of world-historical importance.

A Europe liberated from fascism but divided by a Cold War afterwards reminds us that, although so much was sacrificed and won by so many during the war, so much was thrown away and lost by so few after it.

Operation Bagration and Operation Overlord should never be spoken of separately. Both were mounted at the same stage in the war by a Grand Alliance that contained within it the seeds of a future that, if had come to pass, would have justified the scale of the sacrifice needed to emerge victorious.

The last word goes to Vasily Grossman:

“Nearly everyone believed that good would triumph, that honest men, who hadn’t hesitated to sacrifice their lives, would be able to build a good and just life.”

Amen to that.

John Wight, author of Gaza Weeps, 2021, writes on politics, culture, sport and whatever else. Please consider taking out a subscription at his Medium site.  

This article is from the author’s Medium site.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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14 comments for “The D-Day of the Eastern Front

  1. anon
    June 8, 2024 at 21:54

    80% of German army casualties were sustained on the Eastern Front.

    What is not generally known is that there were peace feelers between Hitler and Stalin in 1942 and 1943, even after the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk.

    Russia could have gone for a ceasefire and opted out of the last 2 years of the war.
    In which case – no D Day.
    No bargain basement Hollywood epics about saving Private Ryan, Swindler’s List, etc.

  2. anon
    June 7, 2024 at 21:32

    Just before D Day, Bojo The Clown Johnson was hosting Ukrainian Nazis from the Azov Brigade in the UK Houses of Parliament, slobbering all over them and trying to incite further escalation against Russia.

    Like Trudeau and all the assembled Canadian political hacks slobbering over Nazi SS veterans.

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    June 7, 2024 at 10:22

    How utterly shameful that President Macron (France) caved in to the Russophobes and rescinded inviting Russia to partake in the D-Day celebrations. Boot licking must be very ‘gourmet’.

    • Mike
      June 8, 2024 at 17:21

      Ray Mc Govern (ex CIA) on Judge Napolitano program pointed out for the 2024 D-Day celebration France did invite Russia but the US put up a hissy fit and said Joe Biden would not go unless France disinvited Russia so France disivited Russia.

      But Zelensky the NOT PRESIDENT of Ukraine was there even though many of his people in Ukraine supported the Nazis and were fighting the Soviet Union in favor of the Nazis.

      Hell, had the Nazis told the Ukrainian Nazis to go to France to throw D-Day into the sea they would have.

  4. John S
    June 6, 2024 at 19:11

    It is a simple fact that the Soviets did the “heavy lifting” in defeating Hitler in Europe, aided of course by Bomber Command’s away game in Germany, the North African/Italian campaigns and the work of the code-breakers at Bletchley Park.

    When the allies landed in Normandy on 6th June, they faced 6 infantry divisions and 2 Panzer divisions locally, with c.50 German infantry/tank divisions in Western Europe overall, while on the Eastern Front, the Soviets faced c.175 German divisions! David Glantz’s lecture on the continental scale of the Eastern Front (hxxps://, while of poor visual quality (240p!), is well worth an hour of your time.

  5. Carolyn L Zaremba
    June 6, 2024 at 12:11

    My father participated in D-Day, towing a glider across the English Channel. I am proud that he did. I am opposed to imperialist war, but the war against Hitler’s Third Reich was a war that needed to be fought, unlike the wars of conquest that followed.

  6. Desert Dave
    June 6, 2024 at 12:11

    I just listened to an extract of Biden´s speech at Normandy. He lauds the D-Day action as a testament to the allies´ fight for Democracy, opportunistically omitting Soviet participation, or that the USSR was not democratic.

    All is in the service of promoting our disastrous and ill-conceived war against Russia in the Ukraine.

  7. Kurt
    June 6, 2024 at 11:48

    This statement by Mr. Wight is preposterous in itself without further clarification:

    The notion that the men who gave their lives on D-Day, and thereafter across Europe on the way to war’s end in 1945, did so in order to give birth to a continent dependent on Washington and in fear of Moscow, is preposterous.

    The men who gave their lives were the fodder for the very idea of this statement that the ruling class and their government and military lackeys believed. This was not a war for freedom and democracy. It was another war for the redivision of the world and its resources where the United States became the imperialist power.
    The US, Britain, and western European governments were extremely fearful of Moscow. They knew the Russians were the ones winning the war. The Russians killed 8 out of 10 German soldiers on the eastern front. The west hated the Soviets and the US government and military brass were not about to let the Soviets get more of an upper hand in the division of the spoils after wars end.
    To show how fearful the United States was one only needs to look at the decision of using two nuclear weapons on Japan. These weapons were not used to avoid the invasion of the Japanese mainland by allied forces, they were used to show the Soviets who was the new hegemonic power in the world and to keep the Soviets from invading the Japanese mainland themselves so the US could keep the
    ” communist ” ( aka Stalinism ) influence away.

    • Rob Roy
      June 6, 2024 at 18:28

      In response to your thoughtful comment, I would add that the US strafed and fire-bombed, totally leveling, 67 Japanese cities before they used nuclear bombs on the 68th and 69th, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The war was already over, but boys with new toys just have to try them out, because, you know, the Japanese weren’t real people, and using those big bombs would scare the Russians and Chinese. [Just as the Palestinians aren’t real people to Israeli Jews, thus the genocide is just fine.] The Russians won WWII and lost many millions of their soldiers, unlike the Allies, by comparison, who never give them credit, the US being the most shameful, or is it shameless.

      • Irina
        June 7, 2024 at 01:18

        Not to mention that much of Western
        Russia was destroyed. So they had to
        Rebuild, with a greatly diminished
        Workforce and traumatized population.

        While the US, smugly snuggled between
        Its protective oceans, could both claim
        ‘Victory !’ and, due to economic and
        Geographic advantage, prevail in the
        Hegemonic Pax.

    • Frank Lambert
      June 7, 2024 at 10:33

      Kurt, God that you caught that statement too by Mr. Wight but I believe what he means is that soon after Germany’s surrender, the American propaganda fear tactic of “Beware of those evil Russian communists, they want to enslave mankind” and with A-Bomb Harry’s new CIA organization, did as much as they could to sabotage any leftist (socialist or communist) movements in Western Europe, especially in Italy, Belgium and France, including false flag operations to turn the general population of Europe toward the capitalist way of thinking. And yes, The Soviet Red Army, under leadership of General Zukov inflicted approximately 87% of German casualties on the Eastern Front. Even British imperialist, Winston Churchill acknowledged that fact.

      Also, Kurt, you’re correct about why dropped two A-Bombs on Japanese civilians, and NOT to save “a million lives” which was pure propaganda to justify that holocaust, but not only to show the Russkies our newest “weapon of mass destruction” but to keep them out of Japan and the Far East, which we were determined to control. The basic deal between Churchill and Stalin was to divide Europe in half once Germany was defeated which of course happened. But Uncle Sam wanted all of Asia for American imperialism to blossom.

      In late 1975, between Oct – Dec, in the defunct Saturday Review magazine, the great humanitarian Editor, Norman Cousins, published an article on “Why Harry S. Truman Dropped the A-Bomb” and as best as I can remember, Truman’s handlers said basically what you and I said in our comments, but “not to save a million lives.”

      About 15 years ago, I spent a whole day on the internet trying to find that article and offered librarians at three different facilities a hundred dollars if they could find it, which proved futile, but during my search, I read Congressional testimony from Army & Marine Corp generals and Navy admirals during hearings in 1946, who said it was “unnecessary” to nuke Japan, as they couldn’t even stop our bombing attacks over Japan, which with chemical weapons like napalm, on their mostly wooden houses, killed more Japanese civilians then in Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Furthermore, in 1944, a year before the Tojo government surrendered, Japan used envoys asking Wash. D. C. they wanted to surrender, as they knew they would lose the war, but to keep Hirohito on the throne. Brigadier General Herbert C. Holdridge, a West Point graduate, who worked in D. C. during the war was elated when he heard about their desire to surrender, and when he told his superiors the good news, he was literally told, “No way! We’re out of the Great Depression now, general, everybody’s working, businesses are making money and we have to keep the war going for another year.” Words to that effect. After going through the chain of command and being reprimanded, he resigned his commission, (in 1944), the only general officer, which includes navy admirals, to resign his commission (in 1944) during WWII, in disgust.

      So, fast forward to 2024, where we support Ukrainian Nazis (the Stephen Bandera Boys and the Zionist Nazis in Israel who have a stranglehold (deep financial pockets) continuing without repercussions, the Palestinian Holocaust with the blessings of the morally bankrupt political misfits running (RUINING) our country in Wash. D. C. and now, with the NATO goons in Europe, are foaming from the mouth hoping to launch a nuclear surprise attack on the Russian Federation before they can retaliate. Really?
      Very scary! Stock up on toilet paper, folks! and water!

  8. JonnyJames
    June 6, 2024 at 11:44

    Very important facts that are willfully omitted in the western politicians and the MassMediaCartel. Operation Bagration was exactly three years after Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa to invade the USSR (June 22, 1941), which is still the largest land invasion in world history.

    The fact is that by the time of D Day, the Red Army had already destroyed well over 75% of the German Wehrmacht. It is very doubtful that without the USSR, that D Day would have ever happened.

    Instead, the pathetic, self-congratulatory western “leaders” can put on a pathetic PR stunt and further indoctrinate the masses with more warmongering rhetoric.

  9. Em
    June 6, 2024 at 07:26

    The D-Day celebration of war, in France, is the ‘Wests’ every 5-year long ongoing business plan of constantly restructuring the construct of its unilateral narrative, for its own ends—the perpetuation of never ending wars.
    There is never a like celebration of peace, for there has never been even one year where international peace has reigned supreme!

    • Em
      June 6, 2024 at 09:28

      For me, at this point in time, the obviously missing devil in the details of the pudding, is the quinquennial of dishonoring peace by continuously ‘memorializing’ the death of history’s youth; unwittingly caught up in the deceits of the ‘leaders’.
      Americas own Memorial Day, Monday, May 27th, 2024, this year is “the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees” (the hypocrisy in the Governments dripping generousity brings tears to one’s eyes). just celebrated; so graciously grants a much promoted ‘festive’ long weekend.
      This uniquely American style ‘busy-ness’ holy day, is just “one of the federal holidays in the United States, for honoring and mourning U.S. military personnel”.
      These doublespeak components are very significant, historically long-running aspects of strategic policy.

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