The bloody battles of The Eastern Front through photographs, 1942-1943


The fighting on the Eastern Front constituted the largest military confrontation in history. They were characterized by unprecedented brutality, wholesale destruction, mass deportations, and massive loss of life due to war, starvation, exposure, disease, and genocide.

The Eastern Front, as the site of nearly all extermination camps, death marches, ghettos, and massacres, was the center of the Holocaust.

Over the course of four years, more than 400 Red Army and German divisions clashed in a series of operations along a front that stretched for more than 1,000 miles. Some 27 million Soviet soldiers and civilians and about 4 million German soldiers lost their lives on the Eastern Front during the brutality of those years.

To complicate things further, forces within the Soviet Union often fragmented; at the start of the war, some groups had even welcomed the Germans and fought against the Red Army, hoping that Hitler's army would free him from Stalin.

Later, as the fighting became desperate, Stalin issued Order No. 227 "Not a step back!" Which prevents Soviet forces from retreating without direct orders. Commanders who sought to pull back faced tribunals, and infantrymen faced "blocking units" of their own fellow soldiers, ready to kill anyone who fled.

The Eastern Front was decisive in determining the outcome of the European part of World War II, which ultimately led to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

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