The Valley of Death is located in the Dukla Pass just outside the village of Svidnik in the north eastern corner of Slovakia. The Dukla Pass is the lowest mountain pass in the Carpathian Mountains main range. It's a strategically significant mountain pass in the Laborec Highlands of the Outer Eastern Carpathians, on the border between Poland and Slovakia and close to the western border of Ukraine.

It was the scene of bitterly contested battle for the Dukla Pass (borderland between Poland and Slovakia) on the Eastern Front of World War II between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in September–October 1944. The battle would be counted among one of the most bloody in the entire Eastern Front and in the history of Slovakia; one of the valleys in the pass near villages of Kapišová, Chyrowa, Iwla and Głojsce would become known as the Valley of Death.

The famous tank monument - with a Russian T-34 "crushing" a German PzKpfw IV - outside Svidnik marks at the entrance to the Valley of Death at the Dukla Pass.

In this valley several tanks and other remains can still be seen. Some of the tanks are left almost where they stopped during the battle, while other have been turned into monuments. Most of the tanks are Russian model T-34. Thanks to Europeans Tourist Guide, we can enjoy these awesome images.

The Battle of Dukla Pass 

On Sept. 3, 1944, five days after the start of the Slovak National Uprising, the supreme command of the 1st and 4th Ukrainian divisions in Poland were given the order to "prepare to carry out a military action with the purpose of penetrating from the Krosno-Sanok region [in Poland] to the Slovak border and joining with the uprising Slovak troops." The army was given two days to prepare the offensive. Despite some reservations about the move among the Soviet generals, who had just successfully finished their summer offensive in Poland by reaching the Silesian border, there could be no disagreeing with Stalin's directive.

The Soviet supreme command decided to penetrate into Slovakia through the Dukla Pass, the main passage through the Carpathian mountains connecting Poland and Slovakia. The action was to take five days. The success of the strategy depended upon the cooperation of the East Slovak Army, which was still under Nazi command. This army, located on the Slovak side of the pass, consisted of 35,000 troops, who were expected to defect to the Soviet side once the intervention began. However, perhaps getting wind of the scheme, on the second day of the uprising the Wehrmacht seized and disarmed the East Slovak soldiers in an operation called the Kartoffelermte (Potato Harvest). Nazi troops then replaced them, occupying the pass.

On Sept. 8, 1944, the 38th Soviet Army initiated an attack on the Polish towns of Dukla and Krosno, on the access path to the Dukla Pass. They were followed the next day by about 16,000 troops of the Czechoslovak Army - soldiers who had defected from Nazi-controlled Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia to fight on the side of the Allies.

The whole operation involved about 180,000 Allied soldiers and 100,000 defending Nazi troops. Even though the Allied forces had the benefit of greater numbers, this proved an insufficient advantage for an offensive carried out under the complicated conditions of the mountainous terrain of the Dukla Pass. Slowly advancing Soviet troops suffered heavy losses against the well-trained riflemen and other units of the German army used to fighting in the mountains. The battle then continueds until Nov. 15 around the exit from the Dukla Pass. The originally planned five-day offensive swelled into nearly two months of heavy warfare and bloodshed.

The cost of the operation was high for both sides. The Allies suffered 85,000 dead and wounded, with the Czechoslovak Army alone accounting for 6,500 of the casualties. The Nazis also paid a high price, with 52,000 dead or wounded soldiers. In spite of the great losses and the fact that it was a military failure, the battle of Dukla was a significant political event. It not only lent legitimacy to the Czechoslovak government-in-exile, but proved to the world that Czechs and Slovaks did not support the Nazi regime and were ready to fight on the side of the Allied forces.


Stojaspal, Jan - | | Wikipedia

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