The bridge at Nagnajów, Poland

Nagnajów is today part of the administrative district of Tarnobrzeg, Poland.  There is a large road and railway bridge over the Vistula river.  The bridge is very close to the point where the Red Army crossed the Vistula in 1944 and the bridgehead thus created became one of the jumping off points for its offensive into Germany in January 1945.  

In the summer of 1944 the Red Army destroyed Army Group Centre in Belarussia and then in what had been eastern Poland before the war.  Advancing from the former Polish border, the Soviets captured Tarnopol, Lwów and advancing westwards they reached the Vistula river by the evening of 29 July 1944 when elements of the 350th Rifle Division under Major General Grigori Vekhin crossed it at Nagnajów.  The following day, the Soviet 13th Army and First Guards Tank Army crossed by fording and ferry so that by the evening almost 100 square kilometres of the western bank had been captured.  

On 1 August 1944, the Wehrmacht attempted a pincer movement from Mielec and Tarnobrzeg, both on the eastern bank of the river in order to cut off the Soviet bridgehead.  Although outnumbered, the Soviet 33rd Infantry Corps and 9th Mechanised Corps held the line then moved to capture Tarnobrzeg on 6 August 1944.  On the western side of the river, the Red Army continued to advance against weak or no resistance until the bridgehead was almost 3,000 square kilometres.

On 11 August the Hermann Goering division, rushed to the area to stop the advance, attempted to push back the Soviet bridgehead starting off from Szydłów but in three days of fighting were unable to progress.

Neither side had the resources to continue fighting.  The Red Army had advanced a very long way and needed to bring up supplies, the Germans were pressed everywhere and had suffered major defeats in both east and west.  The front remained static until January 1945 when the Vistula - Oder offensive started.

Today we can see the place where the Red Army crossed.  The river is very wide, but it is not very deep and walking across the bridge, one can see the bottom of the river almost entirely along its course.  Indeed the town of Baranów was built to be close to the ford across the Vistula.

There is plenty of places to park nearby although the noise from the major road would be enough to discourage anyone from spending the night there!

 

Sources : Bolesław Dolata: Wyzwolenie Polski 1944-1945. Działania wyzwoleńcze Armii Radzieckiej i Ludowego Wojska Polskiego. Warszawa: 1971

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