South-Eastern Estonia is captured

to map

13. August 1944

While the German army managed to resist fiercely attacking Red Army, situation in the southern part of the front worsened.

Even though with every following day, the leadership of the Battle Group North understood that it is very difficult, if not even impossible, to defend the Baltics, Hitler did not heed their warnings. Marienbug (Aluliine/Alūksne) line, covering Southern Estonia, remained very weak due to the rearrangement of the forces.

Red Army launched their general assault on August 10, 1944: on August 11 Petseri was taken, on August 13, Võru. By August 15 the front had reached Sangaste, and the Red Army was only few dozen kilometers form Valga, a very important transport hub.

With the help of the German air force, Red assault was halted for some time, also the Home Guard played a big role in pushing the Russians back to Koiva (Gauja) River - Väike Emajõgi River line. Nonetheless, the Red Army still posed a threat on Tartu, as they were moving forward through Põlva. Capturing Tartu would have threatened the rear area of the Battle Group Narva, thus additional forces were sent to the city, but the assault of the superior enemy had already began.

On August 23, the Reds managed to destroy the springboard at Kärevere bridge, significantly worsening the position of the Germans. German counter attack failed, and on August 25, 1944, Russians captured Tartu and formed their own springboard to the northern shore of Emajõgi River.

Image: destroyed house in Tartu

Source: Eesti ajalugu. VI, Vabadussõjast taasiseseisvumiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006                                                                                                 

Image source:

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