During World War II from July 10 to September 10, 1941 took place the Battle of Smolensk, which significantly delayed the German offensive on Moscow. The defense of the city lasted from 15 July to 28 July. July 16, 1941 the city was occupied by German troops. Smolensk Archive regional committee of the CPSU (b) was taken to Germany and after the war was in the United States, giving the Western public the first glimpse of the scale of repression in the Soviet Union deployed.
Smolensk was liberated from the Germans, 25 September 1943 at the Smolensk-Roslavl operation.