Operation Kormoran


'Kormoran' was a German operation against partisans in the region of the railway linking Novi Borisov and Minsk in the German-occupied western part of the USSR as a successor to 'Regenschauer' and 'Frühlingsfest' (25 May/17 June 1943).

In this key area of Belorussia, bounded by Minsk, Borisov and Parafiyanov, substantial partisan forces operated to good effect from safe havens in the forests just to the south in the Pripyet Marshes, harrying the rail and road communications required by Generalfeldmarschall Günther von Kluge’s Heeresgruppe 'Mitte' in front of Smolensk. Here Generaloberst Hans-Georg Reinhardt’s 3rd Panzerarmee and Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici’s 4th Army were tasked with the defence of Vitebsk and Smolensk, against which the Soviets planned to unleash the forces of General Andrei I. Eremenko’s Kalinin Front (from 12 October the 1st Baltic Front) and General Vasili D. Sokolovsky’s West Front as part of the late-summer general offensive to free the Dniepr river and Smolensk areas from German occupation in the aftermath of 'Zitadelle'. Thus an increasing tempo of partisan operations was ordered in an effort to reduce the volume of supplies reaching German front-line formations, and also to persuade the Germans to pull back combat units for internal-security duties.