Winter 1941

During the autumn, Stalin had been transferring fresh, well-equipped Soviet forces from Siberia and the Far East to Moscow. On 5 December 1941, these reinforcements attacked the German lines around Moscow, supported by new T-34 tanks and Katyusha rocket launchers. The new Soviet troops were better-prepared for winter warfare than their foes, and they also included several ski battalions. The exhausted and freezing Germans were driven away from Moscow on 7 January 1942. A further Soviet attack was mounted in late January, focusing on the junction between Army groups North and Centre between Lake Seliger and Rzhev, and drove a gap between the two German army groups. In concert with the advance from Kaluga to the south-west of Moscow, it was intended that the two offensives converge on Smolensk, but the Germans rallied and managed to hold them apart, retaining a salient at Rzhev. A Soviet parachute drop on German-held Dorogobuzh was spectacularly unsuccessful, and those paratroopers who survived had to escape to the partisan-held areas beginning to swell behind German lines. To the north, the Soviets surrounded a German garrison in Demyansk, which held out with air supply for four months, and established themselves in front of Kholm, Velizh, and Velikie Luki. Further north still, the Second Shock Army was unleashed on the Volkhov River. Initially this made some progress; however, it was unsupported, and

y June a German counterattack cut off and destroyed the army. The Soviet commander, Lieutenant General Andrey Vlasov later became known for defecting to the Germans and forming the ROA or Russian Liberation Army. In the south the Red Army lunged over the Donets River at Izyum and drove a 100 km (62 mi) deep salient. The intent was to pin Army Group South against the Sea of Azov, but as the winter eased the Germans were able to counter-attack and cut off the over-extended Soviet troops in the Second Battle of Kharkov. Russian Liberation Army (Russian: Russkaya osvoboditel'naya armiya, , abbreviated in Cyrillic as , in Latin as ROA, also known as the Vlasov army) was a group of predominantly Russian forces subordinated to the Nazi German high command during World War II. The ROA was organized by former Red Army general Andrey Vlasov, who tried to unite anti-communist Russians opposed to the communist regime. Amidst the volunteers were Soviet prisoners of war, and White Russian emigres (some of whom were veterans of the anticommunist White Army during the Russian Civil War). On 14 November 1944 it was officially renamed the Armed Forces of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia (VS-KONR). On 28 January 1945, it was officially declared that the Russian divisions no longer formed part of the German Army, but would directly be under the command of KONR.[1]