The 2nd Ukrainian Front operation begun on 6 October 1944, with Malinovsky's southern pincer attacking near Arad, and slicing through the Hungarian Third Army. The Hungarians quickly abandoned their positions. Many divisions simply disappeared in the assault. The spearhead of the southern 2nd Ukrainian Front pincer, followed by the Cavalry Mechanized Group Pliyev, had advanced almost sixty kilometers within the first 24 hours.
The attack by the northern 2nd Ukrainian Front pincer ran into difficulty quickly, colliding with two panzer divisions of the German III Panzer Corps' 1st and 23rd Panzer Divisions. By the end of the day, the northern pincer had advanced only ten kilometers.
Reacting quickly, Fretter-Pico ordered the 76th Infantry Division into the forward line near Oradea. This freed up the 23rd Panzer Division to move south to counter the breakthrough near Arad. The German Panzer Division Feldherrnhalle 1, refitting at Mezokövesd, was moved into action to guard potential crossing crossing points on the Tisza River against the advancing 2nd Ukrainian Front units.
By the evening of 7 October 1944, the 2nd Ukrainian Front southern pincer had advanced further towards the Tisza River. Meanwhile the northern pincer was still stalled near Oradea. In this area the German-Hungarian forces had managed to halt several flanking attempts by the 6th Guards Tank Army.
Realizing that his northern pincer was halted, Malinovsky decided to turn the southern pincer northwards towards Debrecen in an attempt to pull Axis forces away from Oradea. This action was to allow his northern force to break through and crush the German forces between Cavalry Mechanized Group Pliyev and the 6th Guards Tank Army.
By 10 October, Malinovsky's troops occupied several bridgeheads on the western bank of the Tisza River, and elements of the 46th Army and the 18th Tank Corps were driving on Kecskemet, only 45 miles (70 kilometers) from Budapest. Malinovsky, however had to redistri...