Took my first GC as the Axis by accepting a '44 GC a few weeks ago.
Soviets absolutely mauled AGC to start. I was able to break pockets on successive turns, but with so many units pouring west, and Hitler's orders for units elsewhere to stand fast the OKH could only watch in horror as AGC dissolved in the first few weeks of summer.
Permission was received to relocate some panzer divisions reporting to AGNU from the Lvov sector to help blunt the ranging Soviet armored formations, and stabilize the line.
Potential salvation for Germany arrived on July 20th, as Hitler was killed in a bomb blast at Wolfsschanze. Freed of the dictators irrational inputs the General Staff look for a way to save Germany.
First order of business was evacuating the units manning the northeastern extent of the line. These orders, issued belatedly because Hitler refused to entertain the notion of withdrawal while he was alive, was only issued in time to save the Narva Detachment Army, and part of 18th Army.
4th Panzer Army, citing the obvious signs that the Soviets were about to launch another major operation toward Lublin, requested and received permission to pull back to the Wieprz river.
1st Panzer Army's infantry formations likewise retreated behind the Zolotaya Lipa river, and conducted a fighting withdrawal through the hills utilizing the successive river lines.
The withdrawal prevents the Soviets from utilizing their enormous artillery build up to open the offensive, and so the Red Army begins moving northwest, essentially unopposed, toward Warsaw. The lead elements actually pass west of Brest Litovsk and reach the Bug.
Model constructed an ad hoc line of pickets along the river, and requested the return of some of the panzers that so recently moved to back stop AGC. With almost nothing between the Soviet's southern spearhead jutting toward Warsaw the general staff make a desperate plea to Guderian to assume overall command on the Eastern Front.
"Without the initiative, we are doomed," he tells them after being briefed on the current situation. "With the Anglo-American forces on the Continent Germany will be crushed. We must regain the initiative in order obtain any kind of peace terms that don't result in the destruction of the Fatherland."
General Jodl briefs the attending generals on Operation Eclipse, the Allied plans for dividing post-war Germany. Several attendees note that their ancestral homes are in the Soviet sector.
Guderian looks down at the situation map and makes an instant decision. The 'Warsaw Salient', created by the push northwest by 1st Belorussian Front and 1st Ukranian Front must be isolated and destroyed. Only then can credible defensive positions be created in Prussia.
Orders are sent out and all the panzer divisions so recently redeployed to AGC are again entrained, this time to gather at Stolin, in the Pripyat marshes. The Hermann Goring Panzer Division joins the remaining elements of 1st Panzer Army near Lvov. Scouting cavalry find that Red Army has largely vacated the area, putting almost everything into the advance.
There was insufficient rail capacity to also retrieve the panzers from 6th and 8th Army, but they will be moved to Lvov as rapidly as possible to assist in maintaining the southern pincer and reducing the pocket.
The decision is made to leave some of 4th Panzer Army's infantry in Lublin, with the hopes of encouraging the Soviets to continue their push west to capture the city and its defenders. The concentrations at Lvov are likely to go unnoticed, but there is considerable concern than the activity in the Pripyat will not go unobserved, in no small part due to the reconnaissance efforts of the cavalry and infantry pathfinders to clear the swamps.
The stage is set thusly: