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Eastern Front

The Siege of Memel, December 1944

The Baltic port of Memel (Klaipeda) was imaged by Luftwaffe reconnaissance on 20 December 1944, two months after the city was cut off from East Prussia by the Red Army. An analysis of the available imagery provides a good look at the military situation inside and around the snow-covered city. The German positions --occupied by the Wehrmacht 58th and 95th infantry divisions-- had been under recent bombardment all along the front. Although the lines appeared to be static, there was evidence of recent Soviet attacks in two sectors. Memel was finally abandoned on 28 January 1945; coverage on 21 February 1945 showed the city and limited Soviet activity.

The siege of Memel was conducted mainly by the Soviet 43rd Army (1st Baltic Front; Map). A German situation map from 1 January 1945 showed five subordinate rifle divisions --the 32nd, 70th,179th, 235th and 344th-- deployed around the German lines. The Germans were dug in along a perimeter of between 5 and 15 km around city center that comprised the city's middle defense line; the city's outer defenses along the Minija River were breached by October.

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