In 1944 the war in the east had become critical for the Germans. Determined defence, reinforced with local counterattacks, typified their fighting all along the front. Panzer division ‘fire brigades’ were rushed from one hot spot to another. German Generals such as von Manstein, Hube, and von Saucken showed expert skill holding back the Red Army against overwhelming odds, extracting their forces from encirclement, holding Soviet breakthroughs, and delaying the enemy advance at important bridgeheads. Fighting erupted all along the front as the Soviets launched Operation Bagration. From Narva in the north, through Byelorussia where the Red Army wedge hit the hardest, down to Romania and Hungary, the German fought for every inch of ground.