The Smolensk-Moscow direction was the prime target of Hitler’s Army attack. On 13 July 1941 Hitler’s Army reached the Smolensk Region, and in the evening of 16 July its main troops invaded Smolensk. The battles, which started in the streets of the town and in its suburbs continued for more than two weeks. The outnumbering enemy’s army made the Soviet Army’s troops leave Smolensk on the night of 29 July 1941.
The Smolensk offensive operation (7 August–2 October) was the part of the main attack of the Soviet Army during the summer-autumn campaign of 1943 and had a great strategic importance. The result of the Smolensk operation was the defeat of the superior Hitler military group and the expansion of the main front of Soviet troops’ attack.
15 September – 2 October 1943 the Western Front and the Kalinin Front carried out a Smolensk-Roslavl offensive operation, that turned out to be the final part of the Smolensk campaign. The troops of the Kalinin and Western Fronts were to finish the defeat of the enemy’s units in Smolensk and Roslavl directions, liberate Smolensk and Roslavl and go into the offensive to Orsha and Mogilyov. On the first day of the operation the enemy’s defensive front line was destroyed practically in all directions. On 16 September the units of the 31st Army liberated an important railroad hub near Smolensk Yartzevo. On 23rd September the Soviet troops blocked main roads and the railway lines between Smolensk and Roslavl and attacked the enemy’s group not far from Smolensk from south. On 25 September the units of 31st and 5th Armies after an assault-crossing of Dniepr, completed the liberation of Smolensk, and the units of the 10th Army liberated Roslavl. By 2nd October the Soviet Army reached the line of Rudnya, Dribin, Slavgorod where by the order of the Commander-in-Chief they finished the attack.
70 military units of the Western Front were awarded with the honourable names “Smolensky”, “Roslavlsky” and “Yartzevsky” for valor during the Smolensk operation. To commemorate the liberation of Smolensk 244 guns fired 20 artillery volleys in Moscow.
Lit.: Истомин В. П. Смоленская наступательная операция 1943 г., М., 1975; Операции Советских Вооружённых Сил в Великой Отечественной войне. 1941—1945. Военно-исторический очерк. Т. 2. М., 1958.
Based on the Presidential Library’s materials: