World Battlefronts: BATTLE OF RUSSIA: Five Minutes to Midnight

On the black Ukrainian steppe the Red Army fought one of its greatest battles, won one of World War II's greatest victories. At week's end Red units swarmed across the Dniester, spilled onto the bleak, muddy Bessarabian plain of pre-1940 Rumania. It was the 1,002nd day of Russia's war.

The Red tide now lapped at Festung Europa; it washed most heavily at Poland and Rumania. This week it was 50 mi. from Rumania's 1940 border, 275 mi. from frightened Bucharest, 200 mi. from Warsaw. Only 240 mi. away, Ploesti's oilfields—fueling pump of the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe—tempted Russian bombers.

Now there were signs...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!