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Commemorating 75 Years since the End of World War II on May 9th 2020

Victory day on May 9th marks the end of the Second World war in Europe and the German surrender late on the evening of May 8th, 1945. 

The war came to Debrecen between 6th October and 29th October in what is known as the Battle of Debrecen.  It was in actual fact a period of ongoing clashes between the two sides.

Debrecen became a strategic objective in the final months of 1944 after German’s prior allies Romania and Bulgaria switched sides, declaring war on Germany and its Hungarian allies.  This change of sides was re-enforced by the subsequent drive of soviet general Fedor Tolbukhin’s 3rd Ukrainian Front into Romania and by forces under Malinovsky in the 2nd Ukrainian front into Bulgaria during 10th-12th September 1944.

Towards the end of September after a failed Belgrade offensive, Mallnovsky’s 2nd Ukrainian Front received new orders.  Based in Oradea at the time, they were to attack towards Budapest via way of Debrecen.  The force included parts of the 53rd Army, 6th Guards Tank Army, and the Cavalry mechanized group Gorshkov.

In opposition Friessner’s force, principally General Fretter-Pico’s sixth army but also the Hungarian third army were ordered to attack Oradea.

The 2nd Ukrainian forces were split into two forces in a pincer movement, Mallnovsky’s 2nd Ukrainian force attacked south near Arad, and routed the Hungarian third army through, advancing 60km in 24 hours.  However, the northern pincer force ran into Armeegruppe Fretter-Pico forces, including the 1st Panzer Division and the 23rd Panzer Divisions of the German III Panzer Corps.

Closer to Debrecen Ukrainian forces were slowed by elements of the 23rd Panzer Division while moving south from Szolnok to Debrecen at Hajdúszoboszló but with air support from the 5th Army took the town on the 9th of October 1944. 

The Germans retreated back to Debrecen fortifying the southeast of the city. 

On 11th October Piliyev’s 4th Guards Cavalry Corps reached Debrecen after heavy losses inflicted by German tanks.  Further losses would ensure in another significant tank battle at Debrecen, but ultimately they linked up with Malinosky and took Debrecen on 19-20 October in an attack spearheaded by Romanian mountain divisions along with the Tudor Vladimirescu division as part of the Soviet 27th Army’s assault on the right flank of the German’s 6th Guards Tank army. 

The end of the battle of Debrecen was actually the fall of Nyiregyházi to the allies, after a successful counterattack, the 23rd Panzer Division recaptured Nyiregyházi enabling Wöhler and the eighth army an escape route through Nyiregháza out of Hungary.  Nyiregháza was recaptured on the 30th of October by the Soviets but had already been abandoned by the axis forces, on the 28-29th thus ending the Battle of Debrecen.


Here in Debrecen, a quiet commemoration took place on Medgyessy promenade at the war memorial.  Wreaths were laid in the presence of representatives of the 5th István Bocskai Rifle Brigade of the Hungarian Defense Forces and the Deputy Mayor of culture.

In the Public Cemetery, participants paid their respects, a wreath was laid in remembrance, and attendees bowed their heads as a mark of respect at the monument to the Russian heroic dead.  In attendance included representatives of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation. At Benedicts Square wreaths were placed at the foot of a statue in remembrance of the Romanian heroic dead.