by Yevgeny MOROZOV, military observer
The closing stage of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany included the summer-autumn campaign of 1944 and the winter-spring campaign of 1945. On the Eastern Front the Soviet troops smashed the German armies and liberated from the Nazi occupation seven countries of Central Europe, paving the way for the restoration of their political and economic structures.
Central Europe is the traditional name of the territories located between the main military-political centers of the continent-on its west and on its east. In the 1930s the name belonged to the region between the Soviet Union and Germany bordered on the south by Switzerland and Italy. In 1938 it included Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. During the Second World War the destinies of these countries were mostly dramatic. The reason for that was to a considerable extent their historically formed hostile relations, the absence of stable traditions of independence, differences in the political and ethnic borders and underhand political intrigues of Germany, Great Britain and the USSR.
Typical during that period for the whole Central Europe were economic reorientation to the Third Reich, massive deliveries of foodstuffs and raws at reduced prices, or simply as requisitions, impoverishment of the masses, mounting police repressions, and in areas under German occupation-ruthless occupation regimes. And, naturally enough, that generated anti-Nazi feelings which were exacerbated from the summer of 1943 by allied air raids on strategic targets in Bulgaria and Romania and by the Soviet propaganda which found ready response among the Slavonic peoples of this region. There were mounting guerilla movements in all these countries which were directly fired by events on the Soviet-German front. Apart from that there was formed a peculiar mosaic of military-political groupings which often collaborated, but ... Read more