FESTE PLÄTZE (thx Doric Design)

Strongpoints declared by Adolf Hitler and erected by the Wehrmacht along the broken southern wing of the Eastern Front from March 1944. The first were centered on various western Ukrainian towns. Hitler said of his “feste Plätze” on April 18: “They are to allow themselves to be surrounded, thereby tying down the largest possible number of enemy forces. They are by this means to establish the preconditions for successful counter-operations.” The doctrine might have had a slim chance to work if the Wehrmacht any longer had the mobile and armored forces necessary to link the various strongpoints and concentrate for point defense, but it did not. And the territory defended was too large (as well as strategically unimportant). The original line of “feste Plätze” in far western Ukraine was abandoned after hardly any resistance, as the Red Army broke through and raced for the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in late March. Only the garrison at Ternopol fought hard, until overwhelmed on April 14. Other “feste Plätze” were declared later, notably contributing to disaster during BAGRATION in Belorussia in July–August, 1944. Still more were announced along the extended and bitter line of retreat out of the western Soviet Union back into the Balkans, Central Europe, and Germany itself.

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