This year marks the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Chisinau from German-Romanian occupation. During the Iasi-Chisinau strategic offensive operation (August 20–29, 1944), the forces of the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian fronts, in collaboration with the Black Sea Fleet and the Danube Flotilla, dealt a crushing blow to the enemy, bringing closer the final defeat of Nazi Germany and its allies. Moldova was finally liberated, an ally of the Reich royal Romania was withdrawn from the war. The Red Army opened the way to the Balkans.
According to Boris Naydenko, senior researcher at the Research Institute of the Military Academy of the General, military operations on the territory of Moldova were planned and carried out in the context of the transfer of strategic initiative on the Soviet-German front into the hands of the Red Army command. The Iasi-Chisinau operation was fleeting and was characterized by a successful selection of the main strikes. The headquarters of the Supreme High Command and the headquarters of the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian fronts were able to secretly prepare for the offensive, and the enemy was taken by surprise.
The offensive of the Red Army was carried out in the conditions of its numerical superiority before the enemy troops. Soviet troops exceeded German-Romanian armies by 6 times, in artillery – 8 times, in tanks and self-propelled guns – 6 times, in aircraft – 3 times.
As the senior researcher at the Research Institute of the Military Academy Sergey Bandurin noted, the operation to liberate Moldova is often called the “Iasi-Chisinau Cannes.” As you know, in this classic battle in 216 BC, the army of the Carthaginian commander Hannibal surrounded and destroyed the 70,000th Roman army with blows from the flanks. “This expression was spread with a light hand by the commander of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, Marshal of the Soviet Union R. Malinovsky, who left memories of these events. However, according to the catastrophic consequences for the German and Romanian armies, it is more appropriate to call these events “the second Stalingrad,” the expert explained.
Their colleagues from Chisinau agreed with the position of Russian historians. “As a result of this operation, the 3rd and 4th Romanian armies were again defeated, as well as the famous 6th German army, which Hitler rebuilt in 1943, and which included relatives or friends of those who served under Frederick Paulus and died near Stalingrad. The Nazis called it the “Avenger Army”. However, here, on Moldovan soil, it again practically ceased to exist, ”said the military historian, doctor of philosophy Boris Shapovalov.
During the ten days of the operation, more than 300 thousand German soldiers and officers fell into the “Chisinau cauldron” and were completely defeated. At the same time, units of the 3rd Romanian army that fought on the Wehrmacht side lost 78 thousand people killed. Altogether, out of the 950,000th enemy group, more than half a million soldiers and officers died or were captured, while the irretrievable losses of the Red Army amounted to 12.5 thousand people – one percent of the Soviet group at the time of the offensive. “This result can be evaluated as brilliant. In August 1944, the Soviet command demonstrated strategic superiority over the enemy and the ability to tactically calculate its logic. This is exactly what the armed forces of the USSR did not have in the first months of World War II, ”B. Shapovalov noted.
Events in Moldova led to a change in the political regime in Romania. In the midst of the fighting, on August 23, 1944, a coup d’etat took place in Bucharest, carried out by King Michael I with the support of opposition parties. As a result, the country’s prime minister, de facto dictator Marshal Ion Antonescu, was removed from power and arrested, and the hastily formed new government announced Romania’s withdrawal from the war and joined the anti-Hitler coalition.