The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (1949–88) (Russian: Группа советских войск в Германии, ГСВГ), also known as the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany (1945–49) and the Western Group of Forces (1988–94) were the troops of the Soviet Army in East Germany.
The Soviet armies permanently stationed in Germany were the predominant land-based military defence against NATO from the late 1940s until 1989, a primary factor in the military situation during the Cold War. The possibility of an escalation of the Cold War was kept low due to the dangers of nuclear escalation and mutual assured destruction.
History[edit | edit source]
- the Soviet 1st Guards Tank Army (HQ Dresden) · 8th Guards Mechanised Corps, the 11th Guards Tank Corps
- 2nd Guards Tank Army (HQ Fürstenberg) · Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps, 9th Tank Corps, 12th Guard Tank Corps
- 4th Guards Tank Army (HQ Eberswalde) · fifth guard mech. corps · 6th Guards Mechanised Corps ; 10th Guards Tank Corps
- 2nd Shock Army (HQ Schwerin) · 109th Rifle Corps (46th, 90th, 372nd Rifle Divisions), 116th Rifle Corps (86th, 321st, 326th Rifle Division)
- 3rd Shock Army (HQ Stendal) · 7th Rifle Corps (146th, 265th, 364th Rifle Divisions) ; 12th Guard Rifle Corps (23rd Guards, 52nd Guards, 33rd Rifle Divisions) · 79th Rifle Corps (150th, 171st, 207th Rifle Divisions) 9th Tank Corps
- 5th Shock Army (HQ Berlin) · 9th Rifle Corps (248th, 301st Rifle Divisions) · 26th Guard Rifle Corps (89th Guard, 94th Guard, 266th Rifle Divisions) · 32nd Rifle Corps (60th Guard, 295th, 416th Rifle Divisions) · 230th Rifle Division · three independent tank brigades
- 8th Guards Army (HQ Nohra) 4th Guards Rifle Corps (35th, 47th, 57th Guard Rifle Divisions) · 28th Guard Rifle Corps (39th, 79th, 88th Guard Rifle Division) · 29th Guard Rifle Corps (27th, 74th, 82nd Guard Rifle Divisions) · 11th Tank Corps
- 47th Army (HQ Halle) · 77th Rifle Corps (185th, 260th, 328th Rifle Division) · 125th Rifle Corps (60th, 76th, 175th Rifle Divisions) · 129th Rifle Corps (82nd, 132nd, 143rd Rifle Divisions) · 1st Guards Tank Corps and the 25th Tank Corps.
The 5th Shock Army and 47th Army left the Soviet Zone shortly after. The 2nd Shock Army was replaced by the 4th Guards Mechanized (Tank) Army. The 3rd Guards Mechanized (Tank) Army was established, HQ Forst Zinna, later 18th Army.
Withdrawals from East Germany in 1956 and 1957/58 comprised more than 70,000 Soviet army personnel, including 18th Army Staff.
GSFG had the task to ensure for the adherence to the regulations of the Potsdam Agreement. Furthermore, they represented the political and military interests of the Soviet Union. In 1957 an agreement between the governments of the Soviet Union and the GDR laid out the arrangements over the temporary stay of Soviet armed forces on the territory of the GDR, the numerical strength of the Soviet troops, and their assigned posts and exercise areas. It was specified that the Soviet armed forces were not to interfere into the internal affairs of the GDR, as they had done during the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany.
Following a resolution of the government of the USSR in 1979/80 20,000 army personnel, 1,000 tanks and much equipment were withdrawn from the territory of the GDR, among them the 6th Guards Tank Division, HQ Wittenberg.
In the course of Perestroika the GSFG was realigned as a more defensive force regarding strength, structure and equipment. This entailed a clear reduction of the tank forces in 1989. The GSFG was renamed the Western Group of Forces on 1 June 1989. The withdrawal of the GSFG was one of the largest peacetime troop transfers in military history. Despite the difficulties, which resulted from the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the same period, the departure was carried out according to plan and punctually until August 1994. Between the years of 1992 and 1993, the Western Group of Forces in Germany (along with the Northern Group of Forces), halted military exercises.
The return of the troops and material took place particularly by the sea route by means of the ports in Rostock and the island of Rügen, as well as via Poland. The Russian Ground Forces left Germany on 25 June 1994 with a military parade of the 6th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade in Berlin. The parting ceremony in Wünsdorf on 11 June 1994 and in the Treptow Park in Berlin on 31 August 1994 marked the end of the Russian military presence on German soil.
In addition to German territories, Group of Soviet Forces in Germany operational territory also included the region of town of Szczecin, part of the territories transferred from Germany to Poland following the end of the Second World War. The rest of Poland fell under the Northern Group of Forces, while the southern regions (Austria, Czechoslovakia) were under the Central Group of Forces.
Structure and equipment in 1991[edit | edit source]
The Soviet troops occupied 777 barracks plants at 276 locations on the territory of the GDR. This also included 47 airfields and 116 exercise areas. At the beginning of 1991 there were still about 338,000 soldiers in 24 divisions, distributed among five land armies and an air army in what was by then the WGF. In addition there were still about 208,000 relatives of officers as well as civil employees came, among them were about 90,000 children. Most locations were in the area of today's Brandenburg.
In 1991 there were approximately 4,200 tanks, 8,200 armored vehicles, 3,600 artillery pieces, 106,000 other motor vehicles, 690 aircraft, 680 helicopters, and 180 rocket systems.
At the end of the 1980s, the primary Soviet formations included:
- 1st Guards Tank Red Banner Army – Dresden
- 2nd Guards Tank Army – Fürstenberg/Havel
- 3rd Shock Army – Magdeburg
- 8th Guards Order of Lenin Army – Weimar-Nohra
- 20th Guards Red Banner Army – Eberswalde
- 16th Air Army – Zossen
- 6th Fighter Aviation Division – Merseburg
- 16th Guards Fighter Aviation Division – Ribnitz-Damgarten. Withdrawn 30 October 1993 to Millerovo, North Caucasus Military District, and joined 4th Air Army.
- 105th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division – Großenhain
- 125th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division – Rechlin [town, not in airfield] – disbanded July 1993 or October 1993.
- 126th Fighter Aviation Division – Zerbst
Other Group-level formations included:
- 35th independent Landing-Assault Brigade (effectively an airmobile brigade; Cottbus, Germany, activated October 1979, and transferred to Kapchagai, Kazakh SSR, in April 1991. Eventually became part of Kazakh Armed Forces).
Commanders-in-Chief of the GSFG[edit | edit source]
- Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany (SOFG 1945–49)
- Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG 1949–1988)
- Vasily Chuikov – 1 April 1949 until 26 May 1953
- Andrei Grechko – 27 May 1953 until 16 November 1957
- Matvei Zakharov – 17 November 1957 until 14 April 1960
- Ivan Yakubovsky – 15 April 1960 until 9 August 1961
- Ivan Konev – 9 August 1961 to 18 April 1962
- Ivan Yakubovsky – 19 April 1962 to 26 January 1965
- Pyotr Koshevoy – 27 January 1965 to 31 October 1969
- Viktor Kulikov – 1 November 1969 to 13 September 1971
- Semyon Kurkotkin – 14 September 1971 to 19 July 1972
- Yevgeni F. Ivanovski – 20 July 1972 to 25 November 1980
- Mikhail M. Zaytsev – 26 November 1980 to 6 July 1985
- Pjotr G. Lushev – 7 July 1985 to 11 July 1986
- Waleri A. Belikov – 12 July 1986 to 12 November 1987
- Western Group of Forces (WGF 1988–94)
- Boris W. Snetkov – 26 November 1987 bis 13.Dezember 1990
- Matvei P. Burlakov – 13 December 1990 to 31 August 1994
See also[edit | edit source]
- Divisions of the Soviet Union 1917-1945
- List of Soviet Army divisions 1989–91
- Omoiyari Yosan (DDR Government→ГСВГ)
References[edit | edit source]
- Chris Lofting & Kieron Pilbeam, 'Sperenburg,' Air Forces Monthly, February 1995, p.42
- Steven J. Zaloga (1989) Tank War-Central Front – NATO vs. Warsaw Pact. Osprey Elite Series No 26. ISBN 0-85045-904-4
- Michael Holm, 16th Guards Fighter Aviation Division
- Michael Holm, 125th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division, accessed September 2011
- Michael Holm, 35th Landing-Assault Brigade
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Lutz Freundt, Sovetskiye voyska v Germanii, 1945–1994 (Soviet Troops in Germany 1945–1994), publisher Publishing House, 1994.
- Scott and Scott, The Armed Forces of the USSR, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1979
- Roter Stern über Deutschland, Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk und Stefan Wolle, Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin, 2001, ISBN 3-86153-246-8. This German book, The Red Star over Germany, Soviet troops in the GDR, presents 49 years of the Soviet Army stationed in East Germany.
[edit | edit source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Group of Soviet Forces in Germany.|
- U.S. Military Liaison Mission memorial site, Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
- German Armed Forces Military History Research Office, Database of GSFG and NPA locations
- The GSVG : Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (Russian)
- GSFG (Russian)
- The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
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