Battle of Brody
The German army is defeated in western Ukraine
author Paul Boșcu, December 2016
The Battle of Brody took place during the Soviet Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive. This offensive saw the formation of a pocket at Brody were a large number of German forces were surrounded and destroyed. The Lvov-Sandomierz offensive was launched so that the Germans would be dislodged out of Ukraine and Eastern Poland. The Red Army accomplished all of its objectives by the end of this offensive.
The battle of Brody took place during the Soviet Lvov-Sandomierz offensive. This offensive led to the formation of a pocket at Brody where a large number of German forces were surrounded and destroyed. The Lvov-Sandomierz offensive was launched so that the Germans would be dislodged out of Ukraine and Eastern Poland. The Red Army accomplished all of its objectives by the end of this offensive.

During the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the land was known as East Galicia. Following the First World War it became part of Poland, before being occupied by the Russians early in the Second World War.

The war had passed through this land in 1941, when it was the scene of heavy fighting, which however soon passed. Now, in 1944, the war was coming back. This time it was the Russians whose new offensive was pushing into Poland.

There was not much to say about Brody, except that it was located 35 km southwest of the village of Zolochiv, where the overland road from Lemberg crossed the former Polish-Russian frontier and split in two to head off in the directions of Rowno and Ternopol. Now, in wartime, the road had become of special significance.

Galicia was a tranquil, out of the way region, with the watershed between the Northern Bug with its tributaries and the beginning Southern Bug, Strypa and the likewise southward-flowing Dnestr. The region featured wooded hills, valleys and forests, interspersed with villages large and small, among which was the small city of Brody. Brody was 100 km from Lvov, the former capital of Galicia, and not far from Ternopol, which had been in Soviet hands for some time.

Positioned in this militarily and strategically important area since its withdrawal from the Rowno area in mid-March was General Arthur Hauffe's XIII Army Corps. The corps, with its four divisions deployed just east of Brody, already had ‘pocket experience’. It had been surrounded around Brody from the end of March until mid-April, when the heavy losses inflicted by a stubborn German defence and a counterattack by Panzer units had forced the Russians to abandon the encirclement. From then until high summer the corps had spent a relatively quiet period in its positions. It was the calm before the great storm.

The Army Group North Ukraine’s situation had deteriorated significantly since the total collapse of Army Group Center, and most of its reserves had been taken away.

The troops were calm and composed. Their positions were well-built, they were battle tested and had successfully defended against Soviet attacks before. But like the German front everywhere, there was only one infantry division next to the other, and behind them a second, but unmanned, rear position (the ‘Prinz Eugen Position’) and nothing more.

This time the Red Army's preparations were not concealed. Army Group North Ukraine began noting increasing signs of an impending offensive. Appropriate directives were issued, and XIII Corps was placed on a precautionary alert. This meant an immediate cancellation of all leave, the movement of all combat troops to the front from rear areas and increased patrol activity. Sentries were doubled, and observation posts were manned around the clock. In the bunkers the men slept in shifts and never took off their uniforms. Helmets and weapons were kept nearby at all times.

The Fourth Panzer Army had two Panzer divisions in reserve (16th and 17th), as did the First Panzer Army (1st and 8th). At this point these units might have been better described as armored battle groups (Panzerkampfgruppen) than Panzer divisions. With the exception of the 8th Panzer Division, these were the same ones which had seen heavy fighting at Cherkassy and Ternopol.

Increased supplies of munitions were sent to the front, the artillery stockpiled ammunition, field telephone lines were checked regularly and radio units stood by to receive incoming messages every half hour. The field kitchens issued extra dry rations in the event that enemy fire made regular deliveries difficult. The aid stations prepared to accept greater numbers of wounded, while the headquarters staff were awake around the clock, ready to go to work.

Panzer divisions, especially ones which were nowhere near their authorized strengths, were no replacement for a defensive zone 30, or even better, 50 kilometers in depth. The thin infantry lines would be all too quickly overrun and pierced. What was more, the defensive forces available were much too weak for the lengths of front they had to defend.

The Soviets, who were in the process of completely destroying Army Group Center and continuing their westward advance, were already preparing their next offensive, the ‘sixth blow’ as they called this part of their operations plan for that year. The attack was to be directed against Army Group North Ukraine, under the command of Generaloberst Josef Harpe. The Soviet offensive was to be carried out by the First Ukrainian Front, now under the command of Marshal Ivan Konev.

Konev assembled two groups of forces on either side of Brody for the attack. The northern group consisted of two armies with sixteen rifle divisions, two cavalry corps and twenty-nine tank brigades, as well as five tank and mechanized corps. The southern group consisted of four armies with twenty-nine rifle divisions and twenty-four tank brigades, as well as five tank and mechanized corps. He also had the usual overwhelming air forces in a supporting role.

The Russians had been massing forces for a new blow through Lemberg and Przemysl in the direction of the San River with their now customary overwhelming superiority. Their initial objective was to capture the major road to Lemberg, necessary for a rapid advance, and isolate XIII Corps, which was barring the way, especially at the road fork near Zolochiv.

The Soviets employed a double-sided envelopment with great skill, striking precisely at the border between the Fourth and First Panzer Armies so as to split these two armies apart and encircle XIII Corps. On the corps' left was XLVI Panzer Corps (Fourth Panzer Army), while on its right was XLVIII Panzer Corps (First Panzer Army). Both of these had infantry divisions manning their fronts.

At 03.45 in the morning it had began to rumble and growl in the north, and soon afterward in the south as well. The corps command had already been informed about what was taking place - the expected Soviet offensive had begun following a tremendous bombardment of the German lines which had lasted until 09.30. The enemy achieved deep penetrations near Horochow to the north of Brody and near Koltov to the south, which were soon expanded into breakthroughs.

Never before had the defenders seen such a concentration of materiel, especially of artillery, tanks and aircraft, followed by masses of infantry. It was not long before the forward infantry divisions broke.

By the second day of the attack, XIII Corps had been isolated from its two neighboring corps. Local counterattacks against the Soviet spearheads failed to achieve anything.

The Panzer divisions being held in reserve had been placed on alert, but it was not until two days later that they were thrown into the battle to close the front which had been torn open in two places. The 16th and 17th Panzer Divisions advanced in the north, while in the south the battle group comprising the 1st and 8th Panzer Divisions set itself in motion. Even before the German counterattack could get properly underway, Soviet armored spearheads were driving from Horochow through Radziechov in the direction of the Bug, and near Koltov were advancing toward Zolochiv.

The armored forces encountered serious difficulties and suffered their first losses before the counterattack even got under way. The dreaded Soviet close-support aircraft, including Mosquito fighter-bombers delivered from Great Britain, roared in at low altitude. In swarms of twenty to thirty aircraft they dived on the advancing German armored battle groups, dropping bombs, strafing and firing rockets. The tanks zigzagged desperately but soon the first was shrouded in oily black smoke. Vehicles burst into flames and men leapt from disabled armored personnel carriers.

The few self-propelled 20mm flak assigned to the battle groups, their crews unprotected above and with only light armor protection to the sides, fired wildly. Scarcely had they engaged one aircraft when the next roared toward them. A few German fighters appeared and tried to intervene, but they were too few to make a difference.

The 8th Panzer Division's counterattack, which was led by the 10th Panzer Regiment's 1st Battalion and the 301st Panzer Battalion, ran into superior enemy forces. The 1st Battalion had only one full-strength Panzer company, the 4th. The attack was halted and had to be broken off after suffering heavy losses. The way was now open to Zolochiv for the Soviets. Elements of the 8th Panzer Division were forced into the area of XIII Corps.

The 1st Panzer Division, which further south and east of Koltow had at first been able to contain the enemy penetration and set up blocking positions, was soon forced to withdraw toward the ‘Prinz Eugen Position’. In places the attacking Russian forces had advanced so far that they reached the position before the German panzergrenadiers.

In the afternoon the armored groups of both Panzer divisions were deployed southeast of Zolochiv for a counterattack toward the north, aimed at re-establishing contact with XIII Corps. The attack got under way too late and after initial success was halted by several anti-tank fronts – the Russian spearhead aimed toward Zolochiv was too strong. The Germans had been unable to close the gap in the front or link up with XIII Corps. The Soviets had achieved decisive breakthroughs in both areas of penetration.

The 1st Panzer Division tried to prevent a complete enemy breakthrough, or at least slow it down. The Russians, who were pressing forward strongly in the area of penetration, attacked sharply and every man of the division was pressed into action. The division's tanks and tank-destroyers threw themselves against the waves of Soviet T-34 and JS-2 tanks, while the panzergrenadiers, fighting on foot, sought to halt the masses of enemy infantry.

The 8th Panzer Division suffered heavy losses. It was pushed back toward the west and was given the job of securing the Zolochiv-Lemberg road. In spite of bitter resistance the enemy occupied Zolochiv, and the Soviet tanks of the southern group reached the Bug near Busk.

Like the 1st and 8th Panzer Divisions in the south, in the north the 16th and 17th Panzer Divisions had been unable to advance and their counterattack soon ground to a halt. The depleted Panzer divisions were unable to restore the situation in the face of the overwhelming tank, artillery and air forces of the enemy.

Hours of massed artillery fire and attacks by heavy bombers delivered from America played havoc with the German supply lines. The fighting troops could only be supplied by night under extremely difficult conditions.

The 8th Panzer division linked up with cavalry units of the northern group. After six days of desperate fighting and futile counterattacks, XIII Corps had been surrounded in the area north of Zolochiv.

The corps command saw the situation as serious but not threatening. The Russian breakthroughs in the north and south were certainly not good, however the corps had been surrounded before and had been freed. Why should it be any different this time, especially since it was known that four German Panzer divisions were already engaged in a counterattack? But this time it would be different. Following the loss of Zolochiv on the right flank, orders came to withdraw to the prepared ‘Prinz Eugen’ position. In spite of the rainy weather, the withdrawal was carried out according to plan. But the fallback position was soon overrun.

The corps, together with the 349th Infantry Division which had been split off by the enemy, had so far only had to withstand minor frontal attacks. A pioneer battalion was assigned to secure the west in the direction of Busk. The 349th Division and Korpsabteilung C were to march south during the night and establish contact with the 8th Panzer Division. The Panzer Division was assumed to be advancing northward in the area northeast of Zolochiv.

There was no link-up and the shattered right flank, where Koltov was still holding out, remained open. The expected relief forces (16th and 17th Panzer Divisions) also failed to arrive on the corps' deep left Northern flank. Instead it was earth-brown waves of Russian infantry and T-34 tanks which appeared. As a result the ‘Prinz Eugen’ position had to be abandoned. The corps' left wing, the 454th Security Division and the 14th SS-Division Galizien, had to be bent back to form a front facing north.

Orders from the army for a breakout arrived. Once again, as in so many similar instances, the most senior German commanders delayed the decision until it was too late. The corps commander, General Hauffe, had also waited too long without acting. As the enemy was exerting heavy pressure from the east and north, and a difficult area of forests and marshes lay to the west, the only possible direction for a breakout was to the south. The corps command still believed that it could carry out a carefully planned breakthrough and establish contact with XLVIII Panzer Corps in an attack lasting a total of three days.

As the most effective remaining division, Korpsabteilung C was to form the spearhead. Its instructions were to advance across the Bug on either side of Bialy Kamien. After crossing the Zolochivka further to the south it was to take possession of the area between Skwarzawa and Chilcyzce, deploying strong security forces to the south. A battalion of the 361st Division and the 249th Assault Gun Brigade were to be placed under its command for the attack.

After the Soviets took the former linchpin of Koltow, the 349th Division was instructed to set out simultaneously from the Usznia area with strong forces and take Hill 334, as well as the following hills, in order to guard the eastern flank of Korpsabteilung C.

Rear echelon units and the wounded were to follow as the attack progressed. The 14th SS-Division Galizien, the 361st Division and the 454th Security Division were to secure the rear of the two attacking divisions and await orders to fall back. Not until the breakthrough had succeeded were the artillery, trains, supply services and wounded to be evacuated, then the three remaining divisions.

The Chief-of-Staff then described the situation: ‘There were only Russian security forces south of the Zolochiv-Lemberg highway to a depth of five kilometers, XLVIII Panzer Corps was still holding a solid front and a successful drive toward the corps by the 1st and 8th Panzer Divisions was underway.’ All three statements were in error and all were to have serious consequences. The corps command had no idea what was really going on to the south.

The corps command was still confident and hoped that a large part of the vehicles, guns and heavy equipment could be brought out of the pocket. All was expected to go well, as long as Korpsabteilung C and the 349th Division, with the support of the approaching Panzer divisions, held the breakout area. The attack was slated to begin at 03.30 in the morning.

The events on the deep flanks and in the rear of XIII Corps had already assumed disquieting proportions. After the main body of the 8th Panzer Division had been forced to withdraw further to the west, the 1st Panzer Division remained engaged in heavy fighting in the area of the enemy breakthrough. The remaining effective elements of the 8th Panzer Division had been withdrawn from their previous sector in preparation for a relief attack together with an armored battle group from the 1st Panzer Division. The attack was to be concentrated in a narrow area west of Zalesie. However the counterattack failed to break through and was repulsed by the Russians.

In the north flank the German relief attack had failed decisively, and the defenders were struggling to delay a further advance by the main Soviet force in the direction of Lemberg. In the south the situation near Zolochiv had likewise worsened considerably.

The 28th Panzergrenadier Regiment's 2nd Battalion, part of the 8th Panzer Division, was surrounded by Soviet tanks. The 200 remaining panzergrenadiers held out for five days behind enemy lines before successfully breaking out. By then the battalion numbered 60 men. Three Lieutenants and 140 men were left behind, most of them dead.

The 1st Panzer Division was forced to order a further withdrawal toward Kabarowce, southeast of Zolochiv. For the next two days the panzergrenadiers fought bitterly for possession of the village in the pouring rain. The enemy poured heavy fire into the German positions, while the numerically superior Russian infantry, supported by tanks, exerted pressure on the defenders. The rubble of Kabarowce was abandoned to the enemy, and the division's forces pulled back in the direction of Pomorcany.

Virtually alone, the 10th Panzer Regiment's 10th Company under Oberleutnant Pressberger fought on with its last remaining tanks on a broad stage against far superior enemy forces. The German tanks fought on until they ran out of ammunition or were destroyed. Only two Feldwebel and four men got back to their own lines. All the others remained behind dead or wounded, including the company commander, Oberleutnant Pressberger.

Strong Russian anti-tank positions and low level air attacks, in spite of the rainy weather, foiled every attempt to advance into the wooded hill country south of the highway. The Russians proved to be stronger everywhere and the German battle groups soon found themselves in serious trouble.

It was like at Cherkassy and Ternopol: the German armored relief attack got close to the pocket, but in spite of the efforts and readiness to attack of the German troops, was unable to break through. And once again the surrounded troops were certain that the German tanks were close and that relief was only a short distance away. In this case this is all the more incomprehensible, as the commanders of XIII Corps were in constant contact with the Headquarters of the First Panzer Army by telephone. It is not known what forces were at work that allowed the formation of such an inaccurate picture of the situation.

The area held by XIII Corps shrunk steadily. Following the loss of Koltow, around 65,000 men with their weapons and vehicles streamed into the hilly, wooded terrain between Czechy-Olesco-Podhorce and Bialy Kamien. This was an area no more than 9 km wide by 8 km deep. Inside the pocket all was confusion: columns stalled and blocked the muddy roads, halting or delaying all movement. Artillery units struggled to reach new firing positions. Units became mixed up with other formations as they strove to reach their new assembly areas. Traffic was chaotic.

There was a great snarl of motorized and horse-drawn vehicles, and the assembly points were overcrowded. Inexcusably, huge numbers of train vehicles set out toward the south in broad daylight so as not to lose contact with the breakout forces, and in doing so revealed to the enemy the planned direction of the breakout.

It was completely light by the time Korpsabteilung C began the attack. On the right the 183rd Division Group made good initial progress. It quickly overcame light resistance and, after crossing the Bug, reached the edge of the enemy-occupied village of Belsec. In the center, the 217th Division Group ran into unexpectedly heavy resistance before Hill 366, where a number of Russian self-propelled anti-tank guns halted the advance temporarily. Five of the self-propelled guns were captured intact, and three were immediately put to use by crews whose own anti-tank guns had been knocked out. However, the remaining enemy units were still defending bitterly.

The 183rd Division Group had already advanced through Belsec toward the southeast before encountering heavy resistance from the direction of Poczapy. On the other hand, it was not until noon that the armored group of Korpsabteilung C4, which was supposed to be spearheading the attack, but which had been held up by strong Russian anti-tank defenses near Hill 336, reached the bridge across the Zolochivka near Poczapy. By then it had knocked out about twenty Russian tanks and anti-tank guns. Following fierce house-to-house fighting, the village had been cleared of the enemy and was securely in German hands.

The situation in the early hours of the afternoon did not look too bad, as the attack's initial objectives had been reached. The 183rd Division Group had occupied Hill 257 and the armored group had reached Poczapy, while the 217th Division Group was further back near Zulice. On the left, the 349th Division had taken Hill 334 at dawn and had fought its way further toward the south. On the right, in the area of Skwarzawa, was the 361st Fusilier Battalion, which was screening the advance to the west. The breakout attack was thus going according to plan – at least initially. But now the situation began to change for the worse hour by hour.

The 183rd Division Group was now instructed to advance toward Kniaze. The 217th Division Group received orders to capture Chilczyce and establish a strong defensive position facing east, as the 349th Division was still lagging behind somewhat on the left.

The 217th Division Group, which had set out at about 13.00 with part of the armored group from the Poczapy area, was able to occupy and hold Chilczyce and Hill 274 after a three-hour battle with determined enemy forces. At that point it may have been barely eight to ten kilometers across the Zolochiv-Lemberg road to the south to the battle groups of the 1st and 8th Panzer Divisions. Those eight to ten kilometers now meant life or death for thousands of German soldiers.

Continuous and increasingly heavy Soviet air attacks began in the afternoon. Bomber and close-support units blanketed the breakout units, following units, columns, battery positions and command posts with a virtually uninterrupted rain of bombs, and strafed every visible target on the ground. It was then that the German forces suffered their first major losses of men and materiel, especially among the following train units. A soldier later reported that Red aircraft were almost always overhead. Not a single German aircraft was to be seen.

In the face of heavy resistance and difficulties with the terrain, the 183rd Division Group was unable to capture Kniaze. On the left the 349th Division made little further progress and was forced toward the center. Since afternoon, Soviet troops had been attacking from the east and southeast. Hill 334 changed hands several times before being lost for good that evening. The German units near Zulice and Hill 274 also found themselves embroiled in heavy fighting. The breakout attack had come to a halt. The attack was to be continued at night in spite of the exhaustion. Objectives now were the Lackie area for Korpsabteilung C and Zolochiv for the 349th Division.

In addition to the threat to the whole breakthrough from the east, there now came steadily increasing pressure from the north against the divisions covering the rear. There was only one hope - get all the units out of the pocket as quickly as possible. The corps headquarters still believed that it could break out according to plan.

The corps' orders indicated that the 8th Panzer Division had already reached Woroniaki and would advance through Zolochiv that night, and that the 1st Panzer Division was going to advance against Zalesie on the coming morning – which simply did not correspond with the facts.

The attack divisions were to resume the attack at 01.00, but command of the units was becoming ever more difficult. All radio communications were out, and establishing contact with the units through executive officers and messengers was a wearisome and difficult process. There was little chance of mounting an orderly, concentrated attack, especially by night, and many battle groups and units were already trying to break out on their own.

The 183rd Division Group got no further. During the previous night's fighting for Kniaze it had been thrown back toward Hill 257. Elements of the 217th Division Group, reinforced by numerous stragglers from other units, went to the attack. It passed close by Jasionowce and reached the nearby commanding hills, but found no German tanks there. The group, which now included the remnants of the 249th Assault Gun Brigade, decided to push on toward the south on its own. That afternoon it came upon the rearguards of the 1st Panzer Division in the Zukow area. These were thus the first elements of the corps to break out. Other mixed units also got through.

In the early hours of the morning, a battle group of the 1st Panzer Division under Oberst Neumeister had set out on one last attempt to relieve the forces trapped inside the pocket. It managed to create an opening into the pocket about 10 km west of Zalesie, through which about 3,000 soldiers of various divisions and 400 men of the 14th SS-Division Galizien managed to escape. That same day the battle group received orders to turn away to the west and capture Lipowece, as the Russians, who were advancing relentlessly from the northwest, had crossed the Zlota Lipa in the early afternoon.

Hundreds, even thousands, of wounded, sick and completely exhausted men struggled toward the rear over muddy roads in the pouring rain. The roads were soon completely blocked, and individual columns stood in the same place for hours at a time.

In the days that followed, the 1st Panzer Division was withdrawn further to the south. The 8th Panzer Division, too, was forced to withdraw toward the west, where it became involved in further heavy fighting. XIII Corps was left on its own. Following the failure of the breakout attacks, the troops and rear echelon units within the pocket found themselves being squeezed into an ever smaller area. Heavy fighting developed against the enemy forces pressing toward the pocket.

The headquarters of the 217th Division Group, with its pioneer platoon and some stragglers, fought bitterly against the flanking threat from the left around Chilczyze and held the village until evening. There was also heavy fighting for Poczapy. Two pioneer platoons were holding out there, and the enemy finally resorted to heavy bombing attacks in an effort to break their resistance. Zulice was also defended stubbornly.

The 183rd Division Group made a renewed effort to break through near Kniaze. Elements in battalion strength smashed a short-lived breach in the enemy ring and made contact with the 8th Panzer Division near Gologory.

The 454th Security Division had to be withdrawn from the northern front to cover the right flank in the Belsec-Skwarzawa area. Enemy pressure against the pocket's northern and eastern fronts had become so great, that a breakout on a wide front for the bulk of the corps had become imperative – it was do or die.

Once again the breakout attempt was to be made without any idea of the true situation. It was also carried out under the continued false assumption that the corps would be met just south of the Zolochiv-Lemberg road by the two divisions of XLVIII Panzer Corps, which were in fact withdrawing. The strength of the enemy forces in the south was to be demonstrated with disastrous clarity.

Once again orders were issued, if they got through at all, for a night attack. With these orders any semblance of command in the pocket ceased to exist. The mood in the corps headquarters was a depressed one; there was doubt right from the start that the attack would succeed. There was terrible confusion in the pocket, and the first signs of disintegration began to appear. Everything was caught up in the maelstrom of impending defeat. From this point on scarcely any details are known concerning individual units.

The remaining elements of Korpsabteilung C, the 339th Division Group and a regiment of the 349th Division, which had found its way there, assembled into three groups at the railway embankment south of Boniszyn under the command of the two division commanders for the final attack. They set out at 03.00, while it was still dark. So far the Russian forces in the south had done little of note. Now, however, they at once opened up with withering fire from well-established hill positions between Woroniaki and Lackie.

Tanks, anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft guns, mortars and heavy machine-guns tried to halt the Soviet attackers. In spite of a total lack of support from their heavy weapons and artillery, the officers and grenadiers stormed forward under the command of the two generals. They stormed the enemy hill positions like a tidal wave, broke through with heavy losses and advanced as far as the highway. Several Russian tanks were destroyed in close-quarters fighting.

There was no longer a XIII Army Corps. The assault groups on the right and in the center, which included the commanding general and his headquarters staff, had failed to break through. As soon as at least one assault group had succeeded in breaking out, there was no stopping for the following, compressed mass of the corps. Each man wanted to get through and out of the pocket. More and more of the fleeing troops were caught by the enemy fire, fell and were left behind, dead or wounded. The attacks, which lasted three and a half hours, were repulsed with appalling losses and many German battle groups were completely wiped out.

Pursued by the enemy in the north, under attack from ever stronger enemy forces in the east, and the way west barred by swamps and Russians, the only way to freedom was south across the highway, the major Zolochiv-Lemberg road. It was a frightful, deadly path.

The Russians had quickly sealed the gaps in their encircling ring, and now, in the light of day, the mostly open terrain lay under heavy, well-observed and directed fire. Without order and organization, lacking coordination and contact with one another, wave after wave of German soldiers stormed forward. In dense ranks and columns, some led by officers, others on their own, thousands and thousands tried to break through in a desperate charge.

There were scenes of horror everywhere – dead horses, shattered wagons, burning trucks and cars, the last few self-propelled guns and assault guns, now shot-up hulks. Those who fell were left behind – the only goal was to get through. The soldiers formed into groups and ran recklessly across the rail line south of Kniaze and the open meadows and broke into the Russian positions in places, resulting in wild hand-to-hand fighting. However, this massed charge up the open slope against the strongly-manned positions at the edge of the forest near Woroniaki, Zalesie and Lackie resulted in a tremendous increase in casualties.

The German commanders suffered the same fate as their men. Corps General Hauffe was killed, the corps Chief-of-Staff died leading a battalion, the commander of the 454th Security Division sustained a serious head wound. The commander of the 361st Division was wounded and then captured, and the commanders of the 183rd and 217th Division Groups were listed as missing.

Only a very few succeeded in braving the enemy fire to reach the woods southeast of Lackie. There the small groups from the various divisions assembled, some still with their wounded. Completely exhausted and spent, it was several days before they made contact with the last units of the withdrawing XLVIII Panzer Corps.

After Brody another Soviet offensive started. General Ivan Konev's spearheads quickly reached the Vistula and established a strong bridgehead near Baranów Sandomierski. Further expansion of this Soviet bridgehead was prevented because the Germans launched heavy counterattacks. By mid August the German attacks weakened and the Red Army managed to capture Sandomierz. With the town captured the offensive accomplished its goal. The Soviets were now firmly in control of Eastern Poland.

At the beginning of August General Harpe gained some much-needed respite for his troops. He received 5 divisions, including one Panzer division from Army Group South Ukraine.These divisions immediately saw combat in the Sandomierz area. Afterwards, another five German divisions, three Hungarian divisions, six StuG brigades and the 501st Heavy Tank Battalion were placed under Harpe's command. The 501st Heavy Tank Battalion was equipped with Tiger II tanks.

The Germans launched heavy counterattacks in an effort to push the Soviets back across the Vistula. The Germans used the towns of Mielec and Tarnobrzeg on the eastern bank of the river as bases. The Wehrmacht’s attacks caused heavy casualties to the Soviet forces. By mid-August, Konev's spearhead, the 6th Guards Tank Corps, had only 67 tanks remaining. The 501st Heavy Tank Battalion and the 6th Panzer Division, totaling around 140 tanks including 20 Tiger IIs, launched a heavy counterattack. The 6th Guards Tank Corps, despite being heavily outnumbered, held the bridgehead. It knocked out 10 Tiger II tanks.

After the German counterattacks were beginning to lose strength, Pavel Rybalko, the commander of the Red Army bridgehead, was able to expand the Soviet controlled area by a depth of 120 km. He thus captured the city of Sandomierz.

The Germans suffered heavy casualties during the fighting with approx. 55,000 men killed, missing or captured. Of the 55,000 casualties the Germans suffered, about 30,000 were registered in the Brody area. The Red Army fared no better and suffered 65,000 killed, missing or captured. The Soviets also lost about 1,300 tanks and self-propelled guns.