The German�4. Armee�was commanded by Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici, one of the Wehrmacht's top defensive experts. Although badly outnumbered, Heinrici's army gamely held off two Soviet fronts for seven weeks. Eventually, the�4. Armee's front was finally broken and Smolensk was liberated on 25 September 1943. However, the Western Front was too exhausted to pursue Heinrici's defeated army, which retreated to the fortified cities of Vitebsk, Orsha and Mogilev; the�4. Armee�would hold these cities until the destruction of Army Group Centre in June 1944. Operation�Suvorov�focuses on a major offensive that is virtually unknown in the West and which set the stage for the decisive defeat of�Heeresgruppe Mitte�in the next summer offensive.