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Soviet troops in Germany 1945-1994

In the days of the Cold War the 3rd Shock Army was the Soviet formation that sat on the other side of the IGB. They were ‘The Bad Guys’, the Soviet hordes and we at Langeleben were there to hold them back with just a little bit of help from the rest of BAOR. Proof, if ever it were required that "Quality was better than quantity, but then, quantity has a quality all of its own". One British Corps versus one Soviet Army never seemed quite a fair contest but the Russians must have seen something in our presence that we never appreciated. They never crossed the border!

From 1945-1954, the Soviet forces based in Germany were known as the’ Group of Soviet Occupation Troops’. From 1954-1989, they were designated the’ Group of Soviet Forces in Germany’ and from 1989-1994 they were known as the ‘Western Group of Troops’.

This force comprised the strongest Soviet military concentration outside of the national borders of the USSR. By the late 1980s, the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany/Western Group of Troops totalled over 380,000 troops and consisted of the 1st Guards Tank Army, the 2nd Guards Tank Army, the 3rd Shock Army, the 8th Guards Army, the 20th Guards Army and the 16th Air Army.




Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov (9 June 1945-21 Mar 1946)

General Vasili Danilovich Sokolovski (22 Mar 1946-31 Mar 1949)

General Vasili Ivanovich Chuikov (1 Apr 1949-26 May 1953)

Colonel-General Adrei Antonovich Grechko (27 May 1953-16 Nov 1957)

General Matvej Vasiljevich Zakharov (17 Nov 1957-14 Apr 1960)

Colonel-General Ivan Ignatjevich Jakubovski (15 Apr 1960-9 Aug 1961)

Marshal of the Soviet Union Ivan Stepanovich Konev (9 Aug 1961-18 Apr 1962)

General Ivan Ignatjevich Jakubovski (19 Apr 1962-26 Jan 1965)

General Petr Kirillovich Koshevoi (27 Jan 1965-31 Oct 1969)

Colonel-General Viktor Georgievich Kulikov (1 Nov 1969-13 Sep 1971)

Colonel-General Semen Konstantinovich Kurkotkin (14 Sep 1971-19 July 1972)

Colonel-General Evgeny Filippovich Ivanovski (20 July 1972-25 Nov 1980)

General Mikhail Mitrofanovich Zajcev (26 Nov 1980-6 July 1985)

General Petr Georgievich Lusev (7 July 1985-11 July 1986)

General Valeri Aleksandrovich Belikov (12 July 1986-12 Nov 1987)

General Boris Vasiljevich Snetkov (26 Nov 1987-13 Dec 1990)

Colonel-General Matvej Prokopjevich Burlakov (13 Dec 1990-31 Aug 1994)

The organization of Soviet armies was different from that of Western armies, which can lead to some confusion and exaggerate the seeming imbalance. The basic large unit was the Army, of which there were three types: infantry, tank and shock. They tended to be smaller than Western armies — an infantry army usually controlled 4-8 rifle divisions, with 6 being average. The Corps had been abolished as an echelon of command in 1941 (primarily due to lack of trained commanders and staff), so that divisions were controlled directly by the army headquarters. (The WWII Tank Corps, Mechanized Corps and Cavalry Corps were actually division-size units.) Thus the Army was intermediate in size between the Western corps and army. The next echelon of command was the Front, similar to the Western army group.

The ‘Shock Army’ originated in 1942 and, at first, it was a temporary grouping. An ordinary infantry Army would be reinforced with extra artillery and tank units to make the initial breakthrough in an attack, after which a Tank Army would exploit the breach. Thus "shock" = "assault". By 1944, the organizaton of the Shock Army had been regularized and one was assigned to each active Front. The 3rd Shock Army remained on the postwar establishment and was part of the Soviet Army Group of Forces in East Germany until the end of the Cold War.

Special titles that were given to Soviet armies included 'Red Banner', following the award of the ‘Order of the Red Banner’ and 'Shock'. The famous image of the flag over the Reichstag was of forces from 3rd Shock Army. The 1st Shock Army, formed, in accordance with pre-war planning that saw Shock Armies as special penetration formations, was in November-December 1941 to spearhead the counter-offensive north of Moscow in December. A total of five shock armies were formed by the winter campaigns of 1942-3 - the 2nd (former 26th Army), 3rd, and 4th (the former 27th Army) - During the Stalingrad counter-offensive the 5th Shock Army was the last such formation to be formed. The 2nd Shock Army was re-formed three times, most famously after being encircled in the Liuban' operation south of Leningrad, after which its commander, General Andrey Vlasov, went over to the German side.

Armies which distinguished themselves in combat during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 (our 2nd World War 1939-1945) often became Guards Armies. These included the 8th Guards Army.

The GSFG , then known as the Group of Soviet Occupation Troops, was formed after the end of the Second World War, from formations of the First and 2nd Belorussian Fronts. When created on 9/7/1945 it included:-

Soviet 1st Guards Tank Army (headquarters Dresden) · 8th Guards Mechanised Corps, the 11th Guards Tank Corps
2nd Guards Tank Army (headquarter Fürstenberg) · Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps, 9th Guards Tank Corps, 12th Guard Tank Corps
4th Guards Tank Army (headquarter Eberswalde) · 5. guard mech. corps · 6. guard mech. corps · 10. guard tank corps
2nd Shock Army (headquarter Schwerin) · 109th Rifle Corps (46., 90., 372. rifle division), 116th rifle corps (86., 321., 326. rifle division)
3rd Shock Army (headquarter Stendal) · 7. rifle corps (146., 265., 364. rifle division) · 12th Guard Rifle Corps (23. guard, 52. guard, 33. rifle division) · 79. rifle corps (150., 171., 207. rifle division) · 9. tank corps
5. shock army (headquarter Berlin) · 9. rifle corps (248., 301. rifle division) · 26. guard rifle corps (89. guard, 94. guard, 266. rifle division) · 32. rifle corps (60. guard, 295., 416. rifle division) · 230. rifle division · three independent tank brigades
Eighth Guards Army (headquarter Weimar) 4th Guards Rifle Corps (35th, 47., 57. guard rifle division) · 28. guard rifle corps (39., 79., 88. guard rifle division) · 29. guard rifle corps (27., 74., 82. guard rifle division) · 11th Tank Corps
47. army (headquarter Halle) · 77. rifle corps (185., 260., 328. rifle division) · 125. rifle corps (60., 76., 175. rifle division) · 129. rifle corps (82., 132., 143. rifle division) 1st Guards Tank Corps and the 25th Tank Corps.

These troops had the theoretical task of implementing the Potsdam Agreements. In real terms though, they represented the politico-military interests of the Soviet Union. In 1957 an agreement between the governments Soviet Union and the GDR laid out the arrangements over the temporary stay of Soviet armed forces on the territory of the GDR, the numerical strength of the Soviet troops, their assigned posts and their exercise areas. It was specified that the Soviet armed forces were not to interfere into the internal affairs of the GDR, which however they were to do later during the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany.

Following a resolution during by the Government of the USSR in 1979/80 20,000 army personnel, 1,000 tanks and a lot of equipment were withdrawn from the GDR During Perestroika

the GSFG was realigned as a more defensive force as far as strength, structure and equipment were concerned. This involved a clear reduction of the tank forces in 1989 . The withdrawal of the GSFG was one of the largest troop transfers in peacetime military history. Despite the difficulties, which resulted from the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the same period, the departure was carried out according to plan and punctually until August 1994.

The departure of the troops and material took place mainly by sea via the ports in Rostock and the island of Ruegen as well as via Poland. The Russian Ground Forces said ‘Farewell’ on 25 June 1994 with a military parade of the 6th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade in Berlin. The parting celebrations in Wuensdorf on 11 June 1994 and in the Treptower park in Berlin on 31 August 1994 marked the end of Soviet military occupation and operational readiness on German soil.

In addition to German territories, Group of Soviet Forces in Germany operational territory also included the region of town of Szczecin (Settin), part of the territories transferred from Germany to Poland following the end of the Second World War. The rest of Poland fell under the Northern Group of Forces, whilst the southern regions (Austria, Czechoslovakia) were under the Central Group of Forces

The 18th Guards Army was withdrawn from Germany to the Belarussian Military District in 1979 and later disbanded.

By 1988 the 3rd Shock Army, based at Madgeburg, consisted of:

7th Guards Tank Division - Rosslau, GDR: with T-80, BMP-2, BTR-80, and SA-15
10th Guards Tank Division - Altengrabow, GDR: with T-80, BMP-2, BTR-80, and SA-15
12th Guards Tank Division - Neuruppin, GDR: with T-80, BMP-2, BTR-80, and SA-15
47th Guards Tank Division - Hillersleben, GDR: with T-80, BMP-2, BTR-80, and SA-15
3rd Shock Attack Helicopter Regiment - Parchim, GDR: 40 MI-24, 20 MI-8E
304th Artillery Brigade - Burg, GDR: 96 2S5 (24 per battalion)
3rd Shock SSM Brigade: 18 SS-1c (SCUDb) launchers
3rd Shock Rocket Regiment: 54 BM-21 (18 per battalion)
3rd Shock Engineer Brigade: 20 TMM, 12 MTU, 36 PMP, 24 GSP, 28 K-61, 12 BTM, 3 GMZ, 3 MTK
36th Pontoon Bridge Regiment - Dalgow, GDR: 4 TMM, 108 PMP, 8 K-61, 3 BTM
3rd Shock SAM Brigade: 27 SA-4 (9 per battalion)
3rd Shock Air Assault Battalion: 17 BMD, 9 SA-14/16, 6 AGS-17, 8 120mm mortars
3rd Shock Spetsnaz Battalion: up to 30 teams, 5-12 personnel per team
3rd Shock Reconnaissance Battalion

At the end of the 1980s, the primary Soviet formations included

1st Guards Tank Red Banner Army, Dresden
9th Guards Tank Division
11th Guards Tank Division
20th Motorized Rifle Division
Second Guards Tank Army, Fürstenberg/Havel
16th Guards Tank Division
21st Guards Motorized Rifle Division
94th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
207th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
3rd Shock Army, Magdeburg
7th Guards Tank Division
10th Guards Tank Division
12th Guards Tank Division
47th Tank Division
14th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
8th Guards Order of Lenin Army (Nohra)
79th Guards Tank Division
27th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
39th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
57th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
20th Guards Red Banner Army, Eberswalde-Finow
35th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
6th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
12th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
90th Guards Tank Division
16th Air Army
6th Fighter Aviation Division
16th Fighter Aviation Division
126th Fighter Aviation Division
105th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division
126th Fighter Aviation Division

By 1991, the Soviet troops occupied 777 barracks plants at 276 locations on the territory of the GDR. This also included 47 airfields and 116 exercise areas. At the beginning of 1991 there were still about 338,000 soldiers in 24 divisions, distributed among five land armies and an air army in what was by then the WGF. In addition there were still about 208,000 relatives of officers as well as civil employees came, among them were about 90,000 children. Most locations were in the area of today's Brandenburg.In 1991 there were approximately

8,200 armoured vehicles
3,600 artillery pieces
106,000 other motor vehicles
690 airplanes
680 helicopters
180 rocket systems
4,200 tanks

Thanks to and Retrieved from ""


Just found this website which seems to give a lot of detail about the cold war events that other sources seem not to want to mention... it is a Swiss website.

Quote... The Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security (PHP, the former Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact), provides new scholarly perspectives on contemporary international history by collecting, publishing, and interpreting formerly secret governmental documents.  ...end quote.

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