In the last phase of the Second World War, the 6th Panzer Army was the last army available to the German military leadership which was more or less intact and was capable of launching a major offensive. After it had been withdrawn from the Western front in the aftermath of the failed Ardennes counter offensive, it was replenished with men and gears as fully as was possible in the given circumstances and as a result it almost regained its 1944 autumn strength. It would not have been a surprise if it had been deployed on German territory against the Allied troops advancing to Rhine, or in Silesia or in the Baltics or even if it had been sent as a reinforcement to the Army Group Vistula to defend the distant approaches to Berlin against the advancing Soviet army – reinforcement and fresh troops capable of launching counter offensives were desperately needed everywhere. But it happened otherwise: the 6th Army was deployed in Hungary and participated in the Operation Spring Awakening, launched in the western part of the country on the 6th of March, 1945. This was the last German “big offensive” in the course of the Second World War.
Several questions come to mind about the operation. What were the goals originally set to be achieved by this seemingly pointless attack? What role was assigned to the once formidable German Panzer Corps? Is it true that the Soviet command used the same defence directives as had been used during the battle of Kursk in 1943 because they had proved to be viable then? What types of tanks and armoured vehicles fight in West Hungary and in what numbers? How did the American made M4A2 tanks manned by Soviet crews fare against the much heavier German Panther and Tiger B tanks on the Hungarian soil? What were the losses on both sides in tanks and armoured vehicles? To what extent can be the prompt and powerful response of the Soviet side – the offensive towards Vienna – evaluated as being successful? How did the Germans, the Soviets, the Hungarians and the Bulgarians use their tanks and armoured vehicles in this operation?
Besides giving a detailed chronological description of the events, the book tries to find answers to these questions. The facts extracted from the operational documents of the fighting sides have been supplemented with excerpts from diaries and memoirs, and even the maps have been drawn on the basis of the original ones. The author has explored some new archival sources kept in Russian archives and also incorporated some published Russian materials into his research that was neglected up until now by other researchers, along with some newly published German memoirs – all this has made possible to create a narrative of the events related to us by the author in hitherto unprecedented detail.