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F i e l d Mars ha 1 v o n Xiins t e i n 's C o u n t e r c f f e n s i ve of Army Group S o u t h , February-:farch 1 9 4 3 : T h e Last O p e r a t i o n a l Levcl V i c t o r y o f t h e Panzer Forces o n t h e E as tern F r o n t .

A : : h e s i s p r e s e n t e d t o t h e F a c u l t y of

t h e U.S. Army Coininand and G e n e r a l S t a f f Collecje i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l l m e n t o f the requirements for the degree NASTEH O F i4II.I':ARY
ART A):>
SCIZEJCE

DAVID A .

SI;UNR,

EiAJOR,

USAF

Michiqan S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y , 1 9 7 3 K.S., U n L v e r s i t y o f S o u t h e r n C a l i f o r n i a , 1 9 7 7
B.S.,

F o r t L e a v e n w o r t h , Kansas
1986

"Approved f o r p u b l i c r e l e a s e ; d i s t r i b u t i o n i s u n l i i n t e d . "
36-3475

MASTER O F MILITARY ART AND SCIENCE


THESIS APPROVAL PAGE

Kai:;e o f c a n d i d a t e :
T i t l e of T h e s i s :

Major 3 a v i d A . Shunk
F i e l d N a r s h a l vat? ivlanstein's C o u n t e r o f f e n s i v e O f Army Group S o u t h , February-March 1.943: T h e L a s t O p e r a t i o n a l L e v e l V i c t o r y of t h e P a n z e r F o r c e s O n T h e Eastern Front.

IMembeK, G r a d u a t e r a c u l t y

A c c e c t e d t h i s 6 t 5 day c ; J u n e 1986 b y :

P h i l i p ' J. B r o o k e s , P h . D .

&iqJ:k

D i r e c t o r , Graduat.e 9 e g r e e sr og r a m

T h e o p i n i o n s and c o n c i u s i o n s c x ~ r e s s e dh e r e i n a r e t h o s e of t h e s t u d e n t a u t h o r and clc no: n e c e s s a r i l y r e p r e s e n t t h e viiews o f t h e 3.S. Army Coimand and G e n e r a l S t a f f C c l l e q e o r any o t h e r g o v e r n m e n t a l a g e n c y .

ii

ABSTRACT FIELD MARSHAL VON MANSTEIN'S COUNTEROFFENSIVE O F AliMY GROUP SOUTH, FEBRUARY-MARCH 1943: THE LAST O P E R A T I O N A L L E V E L V I C T O R Y O F THE PANZER FORCES ON THE EASTERN F R O N T : A h i s t o r i c a l a n a l y s i s of Field Marshal von Manstein's c o u n t e r o f f e n s i v e i n s o u t h e r n Russia i n F e b r u a r y - % a r c h 1 9 4 3 , by ;vlajor David A . Shunk, S'SAF, 7 0 p a g e s .
T h i s t h e s i s is a h i s t o r i c a l e x a m i n a t i o n of t h e e a s t e r n f r o n t b a t t l e s i n s o u t h e r n R u s s i a d u r i n g February-March 1 9 4 3 . F i e l d Marshal von M a n s t e i n , Commander of t h e German Army Group South, defeated a Soviet t'do F r o n t o f e n s i v e with an MansEe i n ' s exceptional counteroffensive. vo n counteroffensive concentrated a l l the available panzer ( a r m o r ) and mechanized i n f a n t r y d i v i s i o n s i n t o two a t t a c k g r o u p s . Von M a n s t e i n t h e n a t t a c k e d t h e S o v i e t s , arter they had e x h a u s t e d t h e i r o f f e n s i v e , with a d o u b l e envelopment and c o u n t e r c f e n s i v e *dhich d e s t r o y e t i two s o v i e t . arm!e:; r e g a i n e d t h e i n i t i . a t i v e f o r German f o r c e s i n s o u t h e r n
Euss i d .

The f o l l o w i n g i s a s e l e c t i o n f r o m t h e many c o n c i u s i o n s . 'The Soviet General S t a f f , Stavka, over extended t h e i r fcrces, under e s t i m a t e d t h e German c o u n t e r o e n s l v e a b i l i t - y , anti r e a c t e d v e r y s i o w l y t o v o r : M a n s t e i n ' s c o u n t e r o f e n s i v e . von M a n s t e i n c o n c e n t r a t e d a l l t h e a v a i l a b l e German m o b i l e force:; f o r a b a t t l e o f maneuver, o u g h t a combined arms b a t t l e , a n d s u r F r i s e d t h e S o v i e t f o r c e s a s to t h e t i m e and p l a c e o f the counteroffensive.
This

study concluded t h a t von M a n s t e i n d e v e i o n e d and il e x e c u t e d a b r i l l i a n t c o u n t e r o f f e n s i v e i n t h e n i d s t of Soviet offensive. D U ~ t o k l i t l e r ' s r e s t r i c t i o n s on :naneuv(?r w a r f a r e , t h e decli:;inl;- German forces, and t h e i n r ; r o v i n y S o v i e t f o r c e s , t h i s was t h e l a s t o p e r a t i o n a l l e v e l v i c t o r y f o r t h e German p a n z e r f o r c e s on t h e e a s t e r n f r o n t .

iii

TABLE O F CONTENTS

page

......... C h a p t e r Two: T h e l o b i l e Defense . . . . . . . . . . . 1. T h e S o v i e t s P l a n o f A t t a c k . . . . . . . . . . 2 . Map: S o v i e t O f f e n s i v e t o 18 F e b r u a r y . . . . . 3 . southwest Front Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 . Voronezh F r o n t A t t a c k s . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 . Southern Front Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 . M a n s t e i n s Mobile D e f e n s e . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter Three: Mansteins Counterattack . . . . . . .
Chapter One:

E a s t e r n F r o n t Overview

1
6 6

7
8
9

12

14 22
22
26

I.. S o v i e t success and L o g i s t i c P r o b l e m s


2

.....

. Manstein-s Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 . S o v i e t M i s t a k e s and M i s p e r c e p t i o n s ...... 4 . Mansteins C o u n t e r a t t a c k , T h e German Southern Pincer Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . .

28 31 32 35 38

. T h e German N o r t h e r n 6 . Kharkov: T h e Second


5
7

Pincer Attacks Encirclement

...... .......
.

. Map:

M a n s t e i n s C o u n t e r o f f e n s i v e t o 23 March

Chapter Four:

A n a l y s i s . L e s s o n s L e a r n e d and C o n c l u s i o n s 4 2
52
59 64

Appendix O n e : O r d e r o f B a t t l e

............ Bib 1 i og r a p h y .................... I n i t i a l Distribution L i s t . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

CHAPTER O N E

EASTERN FRONT OVERVIEW 1 9 4 1 - 4 2

K o r l d war I1

iqaS

t h e l a r g e s t and most d e s t r u c t i v e war


on t!ie

e v e r f o u g h t . T h i s g l o b a l war saw m i l i t a r y campaigns l a n d , a i r a n d s e a . T h e German i n v a s i o n created of


with

nussia the combat

in

154;

the

theater

of

operaEions

longest forces and

c o n t i n u o u s l a n d f r o n t and l a r g e s t number

of

involved. Soviet bat:tle d e a t h s t o t a l e d over 12

nillior!

German d e a d 3 . 5 ! n i l l ; o n . The war was f o c g h t o v e r a Z C O O m i i e f r o n t from t h e n o r t h e r n t i p of F i n l a n d s o u t h t o t h e C a u c a s u s mountain r e g i o n i n southwest R u s s i a .


On 2 1 J u n e 1 9 4 1 Germany
1

invaded

the

Soviet

L'nion.
iri

H i t l e r demanded a s h o r t war l i k e t h e P o l a n d , F r a n c e , and however, l a s t e d the Balkans. five years

earlier The and war

campaigns

in

the

east.,

almost

resulted

in

the

d e s t r u c t i o n of Ger:nany.
T h e f i r s t f i v e months o f t h e war b r o u g h t

the Moscow

Gerrnan and

combined

arms

offensive

within

sight

of

L e n i n g r a d . The f i r s t w i n t e r found t h e Germans unprepGreci f o r b o t h t h e s e v e r e c l i m a t i c : c o n d i t i o n s and t h e c f l u n t e r a t t a c k of


t h e Soviet

strategic

reserve

armies. planned

The

Gerrllan the

armies

survived

the

long

winter

and

for

summer

o f f e n s i v e t o end t h e war.
T h e 1 9 4 2 German summer o f f e n s i v e

took Volga

them

t.0

the The

C a u c a s a s r e g i o n anc! t o S t a l i n g r a d on t h e
1

river.

German

strategic

objectives

were

the

Ukraine,

Soviet

i n d u s t r y i n s o u t h e r n R u s s i a , and o i l f i e l d s i.n t h e C a u c a s u s . I n s t e a d of b y p a s s i n g t h e c i t y of S t a l i n g r a d , Adolf ilitler, Joseph

t h e German d i c t a t o r , t o ? d t h e A r m y t o t a k e t h e c i t y . S t a l i n , the S o v i e t d i c t a t o r , a l s o d e c i d e d t o f i q h t c i t y of h i s namesake. 2 One of t h e b e s t S o v i e t g e n e r a l . s , Zhukov, General

for

the

Georgi.

K.

as

special
sa>;

Sttvka

(Sovie:.
:(I

General conduct a

S \La-1

representative,

an

opportunir.y

double

enve1oFment o f t h e Ger:nan f o r c e s in and a r o u n d t h e c i t y . b o t h f l a n k s of t h e German 6 t h Army i n S t a l i n g r a d a;l.icd Gerrans a r m i e s . The s h e e r tc rely size

Or.

+;ere A x i s forced maintain the a

of

Russia armies

had to

on

Axis

allied

c o n t i n u o u s f r o n t . A s t h e Germans t h r e w p a n z e r and

r:iotorized fighting larqesi Ru:nar.ian

i n f a n t r y d i v i s i o n s i n t o t h e savage
i n Stalingrad, the
counterofensive armies. 3 O n 1 9 Nove:nber 1 9 4 2 the Soviets were

house-to-hcuse preparing
thelr

to

s t r ke

these

flanking

Soviets

attacked

the

3rd These

Rumanian Army h o l d i n g t h e f l a n k n o r t h o f

Stalingrad. the
29

p o o r l y armed f o r c e s c r u m b l e d u n d e r t h e m i c h i of
5 t h Tank, 2 1 s t , 6 5 t h , 6 6 t h and 2 4 t h A r a i e s . On

Sovier. November flank

t h e S o v i e t s c r u s h e d 4 t h Runanian Army on t h e s o u t h e r n

v i i t h 51st and 5 7 t h Armies.

O n 23 Novenber t h e p i . n c e r s o f this d o u b l e ezvelopmenl:

c l o s e d n e a r t n e town of Kalach, e n c i r c l i n g ti*:enty German and


2

two R u m a n i a n d i v i s i o n s p l u s S p e C i a I i S t U n i t s

totaling to

Some hold
The
six

3 3 0 , 0 0 0 men. ~ i t l e ro r d e r e d 6 t h A r m y i n S t a l i n g r a d

f a s t , b a s e d cn h i s no r e t r e a t .

order

of

winter

1941.
the

p r i o r y e a r s s u c c e s s f u i s u p p l y by t h e L u f t w a f f e g f German d i v i s i o n s s u r r o u n d e d i n Deniyansk a l s o of the ~ u f t w a f E e , klermann supplies could Goering, be to led

Comnlander

believe i n t o th(!
S

that
city,

suficient

airiifted

However, t h e e x t e n t of t h e o p e r a t i o n proved t o o a r g e .

I n e a r i y F e b r u a r y 1 9 4 3 t h e G t h A r m y s u r r c d e r c d . \<ith the success


of

stai.inyrad

t.he

soviets

[:o!essed

the
and

o p p o r t u n i t y t o d e s t r o y t h e rei:iaining German f o r a s e a s t south of Stalingrad. t n addition t o the Sta inqd


ROStCV

campaion

the Soviets attesipted t o take

on t h e B l c : Sea t o stanzer,
4th

o f f t h e German f o r c e s
panzer, South. and
17th

in

the

Caucasas,

Armies,

Erom

reinforcingirmy

~ r o u ~

.
T h e Germans won t h e r a c e t o ROStoV by t

barest
for

of
1st
~t

m a r g i n s , h o l d i n g t h e e s c a p e r o u t e open l o n g enlh

P a n z e r and 4 t h P a n z e r Armies t o r e t r e a t t h r o u c R o s t o v .
t h e same t i m e t h e S o v i e t s a t t e m p t e d t o
Cut

ofthe

forces of the

between S t a l i n g r a d and Kursk

with

an

envelcnt

weakly h e l d Gernlan l i n e s . I n e a r l y 1943 t h e Sets the destruction of


the

planned piarls
Star,

German

forces

withe

O p e r a t i o n G a l l u p o f 29 J a n u a r y 1 9 4 3 , a n d O p i o n

of 2 February 1 9 4 3 . I f t h e s o v i e t s succeeded

destroying German

Army Group A , t h e y would r i p a g i g a n t i c h o l e t h e


3

l i n e possibly~ winnilig t h e war. 7

D u r i n g t h e w i n k e r o f 1 9 4 2 - 4 3 b o t h F i e l d Maisha
von M a n s t e i n a n d S t a v k a were t h t n k i n q i n bold

Er i c h

iiiirnag n a t i v e

terns.

Field

vcn

%rSba:l

Yanstein
Arrcy

firs:.
Croup

attenipted
k.

:.o
ther.

relieve Stalinrjraa pianned

znd

evacuace soutt-err

fie

to

restore

the

flank,

and

launch

counterattack

defe?t

the

Sob'iet

forces

in

Southern pocket,

R u s s i a . T h e Sov e t s were

rediiciiig

I . :@

Stalincrad

while d e f e a t i n g t h e r e l i e f a t t c r r , p t , b e f o r e r n o ~ ~ n t i n ga n o t h e r

n : ~ ; o r o f f e n s i v e a i r e d a t a e s t r o y : n g ;>r~:',yC r o u n S o u t h .

E N D NOTES

CHAPTER O N E

' E a r i Ziemke, % i n g r a d t o Berlin: The C e r m n D e f e a t i n t h e E a s t , ( W a s h i n g t o n D . c . : ors set p r e s s , 1968), 500.


2 p a u l C a r e l l , H i t l e r Moves E a s t 1941-1943, (New Yoyk: B a l l a n t i n e Books, 1 9 6 3 1 , 4 7 6 - 4 8 0 . T h e G e r m a n o b j e c t . i v e s !$ere s e t b y H i t l e r i n F u e h r e r D i r e c t i v e 4 ? , " c a s e B l u e " . 3Ziemke, Stalint o B e r l i n , 50-53.

4 J o h n E r i c k s o n , -T h e Road t o S t a l i n g r a d , ( B G U l C l e r : Westview P r e s s , 1975), 462: Albert Seaton, The xusso-Gernan War 1941-415, ( N e w York: Praeger ?ublishers,
1 9 7 0 ) , 1-5. ' E r i c h v o n iilansteirl, L o s t Vlctori,es, (Elovato: 303, 308-9. O p e r a t i o n s of E n c i r c l e d P r e s i d i o P r e s s , 19821, R u s s i a , D e p a r t m e n t o f t h e Army F o r c e s G e r m a n Experiences20-234, ( 1 9 5 2 ) : Walter Warlimont, Inside 2 a m p h l e t No. H i t l e r ' s H e a d q u a r t e r s 1 9 3 9 - 1 9 4 5 , t r a n s l a t e d by R.3. B a r r y , (Kew York: B a n t a m a o o k s , 1 9 6 6 ) , 2 4 8 - 3 1 2 . 6 A l e x a n d e r W e r t h , f i s s i a a t War 1941.-1945, York: E . P . D u t t o n & C o , 1 9 6 4 1 , 5 6 4 .

(New

of

'David G l a n t z , - t h e Don t o t h e D n e p r : A study S o v i e t O f f e n s i v e O p e r a t i o n s December 1942 August 1 9 4 3 . , ( C a r l i s l e : U n i t e d S t a t e s Army War College, 19841, 103, 107. ':bid., 102-103

CHAPTER TWO

THE M O B I L E D E F E N S E
The t r a n s i t i o n from t h e d e f e n s i v e t o t h e o f f e n s i v e is one o f t h e mosr d e l i c a t e o p e r a t i o n s i n w c r . N a p o l e o n : Kaxims o f War

I n war t h e o n l y s u r e d e f e n s e i s o f f e n s e , a n d t h e e f f i c i e n c y of t h e o f f e n s e d e p e n d s o n t h e w a r l i k e souls of those c o n d u c t i n g i t . George S. P a t t o n , J r : War A s I Knew I t

T H E S O V I E T ' S PLAN OF' A T T A C K

T h e SOV e t s cdme c l o s e t o w i n n i n g t h e war i n ? h e e a s t


with the

bat.t es

in

southern

~ussia in

:he

xinzer
and

of
t.he

1 9 4 2 - 1 9 4 3 . T h e German 6 t h Army r e m a i n e d s u r r o u n d e d r e l i e f attempt. t o f r e e failed. the

German

forces

ir.

t.he

pccket
in :.c

S t a l i n p l a n n e d t o d e s t r o y a l l c h e German Stalingrad

forces south

s o u t h e r n R u s s i a a n d % i n t h e war. From
the

Ca uc au sa s

Noun t a i n s

the

h ea v i 1 y

o u t n umbe r e d

G e r ilia n

f o r c e s were i n f l i g h t t o c h e West. D e s p e r a t e f i g h c i n g n e a r R o s t o v on Army G r o u ~ : S o u t h ' s S o v i e t f o r c e s took R o s t o v , southern flank. If

raged the
17:h

1st P a n z e r , 4 t h ? a n z e r , a n d

Armies w o u l d b e t r a p p e d i n t h e Kuban B r i d g e h e a d . 1
I n J a n u a r y 1943 S t a v k a a s s i g n e d t h e l i b e r a t i o n of t h e

Ukraine
Southern.

to

three Stavka

fronts:

voronezh, three to front

Southwestern, operation

and

saw

the

as

coordi.nated p u r s u i t operation

establish

front

from

C h e r n i g o v t o K h e r s o n . The t h r e e f r c n t s would

sinultanecusly begin

a t t a c k Army G r o u p S o u t h . T h e o f f e n s i v e w o u l d
6

at

the

e n d oE J a n u a r y . T h e t i m i n g a n d c h o i c e of p o s i t i o n s t o a t t a c k

were s u p e r b . Army G r o u p S o u t h h a d o n l y a

few

battle and

weary Italian

German d i v i s i o n s a n d r e m n a n t s o f t h e H u n g a r i a n

armies i n tne n o r t h e r n s e c t o r . 2
Stavka d i r e c t e d
the Voronezh Front to

seize

the

n o r t h e a s t U k r a i n e . T h e 4 0 t h , 6 9 t h , a n d 3 r d T a n k Armies

were
to

t o t a k e K h a r k o v . T h e G o t h a n d 3 8 t h A r T i e s ' o b j e c k i v e was

t a k e K u r s k . T h e Fir?al d e e p o b j e c t i v e was t h e : : z e f r o [ ? l i y l s k

t o Lebedin t o Poltava. 3
Stavka assiqned Scuciwest e a s t e r n U k r a i n e . T h e main e f c o r t and ani Soutkern
t7ror:cs

t5e

mcst

pc';ierful Front.

frcnr
The

r e s i d e d w i t h G e n e r a l N. F . v a t u t i n ' s Sout.h'dest Front's

Southwest

G t h a n d 1st G u a r d A r m i e s a:.cng

w i t h !!obile outflank

t i r o u p P o p o v were t o d i v i d e ?.ray G r o u p S o u c h i n

t!$iC,

t.he G e r m a n f o r c e s a t t h e D n e i p e r R i v e r , a n d e n c l r c ; e

t h e n by

a d v a n c i n g t o M a r i u p o l on t h e S e a o f A z o v . T h e S o u t h e r n F r o n t w o u l d a d v a n c e west t o M a r i u p o i t o c o m p l e t e of t h e t r a p p e d Gerr,ar. f o r c e s .
4

the

dest-ructicn

SOUTI.l!):EST PPONT ATTACKS On 29 J a n u a r y S o u t h w e s t F r o n t a t t a c k e d t h e c e n t e r Army G r o u p S o u t h . G e n e r a l V a t u t i n a t t a c k e d , from north of to

s c u t h , w i t h 6 t h Army, 1st G u a r d s Army, 3 r d G u a c d s ~ r r r y , 5:h


T a n k Army, a n d M o b i l e G r o u p P o p o v . M o b i l e G r o u ~P O F O V , witk

f o u r t a n k c o r p s , b e g a n bJith o n l y 1 3 7 tanlts. 5
O n t h e n i o r n i n q o f t h e 2 9 t h , t h e S o v i e t 6 t h Army the left

area

northwest

of

Starobelsk

an2

attacked

toiiards

B a l a k l e y a . T h e y f o r c e d t h e 1 9 t h Panzer D i v i s i o n west from S t a r o b e l s k . Or1 t h e 3 0 t h 1st Guards t o w a r d s Krasnyi-Liman

to

retreat attacked

Army

and c r e a t e d a g a p i n t h e German l i n e s .

G e n e r a l V a t u t i n SenL Mobile G ~ O U F P o ~ o v i n t o t h e g a p between

6 t h Army and 1st G u a r d s Army t o e x p l o i t t h e s u c c e s s . G e n e r a l


Popov's i n s t r u c t i o n s were t o a t t a c k s o u t h w e s t line to to take the :be

Rrasnoarmiesk-Volnovakha-Mar iupol

encircle

German f o r c e s from t h e r e a r i n t h e D o n r i v e r a r e a . G
On 2 February 3rd Guards

Army

attacked arid
6th

across

the
tke

Donets

river

eas::

ct

Voroshilovgrad

destroyed

r e m a n t s o f :he

8 r h 1 t a . l i a . n Army. The

Panzer
not

Divisien
t.he

c o u n t e r a t t a c k e d 3rd G u a r d s A r m y b u t c o u l d

destroy

S o v i e t b r i d g e h e a d , o n l y c o n t a i n i t . T h e 6 t h Panzer

Ilivision

t h e n r e t r e a t e d w e s t t o a v o i d e n c i r c l e m e n t . F u r t h e r n o r t h and west of V o r o s h i l o v g r a d t h e Soviets advanced against: only the

light resistance. N o German o r a x i s u n i t s area. Isyum.


I

remained

in

The
I

Soviets

advanced

to

Slavyansk

and

captured

V O R O N E Z H FRONT ATTACKS

General

Golikov's

Voronezh

Front Group between

on

February to take and

a t t a c k e d t h e n o r t h e r n f l a n k of Kharkov.
The

Army

south

40th

Arlny

attacked

Belgorod

Kharkov, and o u t f l a n k e d Kharkov from t h e n o r t h w e s t . The 6 9 t h

Army a t t a c k e d from Volchansk t o w a r d s Kharkov.

As

with

all

t h e i n i t i a l f o r c e s i n t h e Voronzh and S o u t h w e s t F r o n t s t h e s e a r m i e s were n o t f r e s h o r n e w u n i t s , b u t had been d e p l e t e d i n


9

tle f o r S t a l i n g r a d , had signiEicant l o s s e s , and


low o n a m u n i t i o n a n d s u p p l i e s . T h e
3rd Tank the

were
Army doub.le

d Kharkov from t h e s o u t h w e s t t o complete

ment

.a
General
GolLkov's
Voronezh South. Staryi
mved

The r e m a i n i n g armies of

t t a c k e d t h e Ear n o r t h e r n f l a n k of Army
's

Group
the Army

cencer

and

left

attacked The

cn 60th

' a l y u k i : i n e :awards

Rharkov.

a l o n g t h e Kastornoe-Kursk

rallroad

towards

Kcrsk.

en d i v i d e d : c t s t ' i c a s s a u l t . q c z u p s t o o u t f l a n k

Kursk
kad

e nortr: and scut.h.


cs F r o b 1 e : i i s .

From

the

star!.

40t.h

hrlry

'The 4 t h T a n k C o r p s o f 4 0 t t i Army b e g a n t o
t!:e

of f u e l a n d a m m u n i t i o n on

secorid

day

oE

the

v e .9
T h e S o v i e t s now E i a n k e d t h e Gerlnan ~ o s i t i o n s i n the

n w i n g o f Army Grol;p S o u t h . From n o r t h o f B e l a o r o d t c


ocly
y Arlr!?

Detachment and
t.he

Lanz t'do

remained panzer

with

three

divisions,

divisions

e t s c h l a n d a c d 2as X e i c h . 10

Armor o f 3 r d T a n k Army r e a c h e d t h e Donets r i v e r on

y j u s t s o u t h oE K h a r k o v . T h e y d i d n o t a t t a c k frcin t h e

ecause o f : h e
ndar te

p r e s e n c e of

1st

SS

Panzer the

3ivision, river

Adolph

Hitler

across

.
the
che

t e d by t h e i n a b i l i t y t o c r o s s : h e launched

Donets

River,

hasty

river

crossing

attack

in

i - c h y q y e v s e c t o r . ?he W a f f e n S S d i v i s i o n r e r n a i r i e d d u q

10

i n on t h e h i g h e r western b a n k . T h e
brought high S o v i e t . ammunition. losses

Soviet

frontal
and the

attacks
precious Pechengi

in

men,

tanks,

I t was n o t u n t i l 10 F e b r u a r y t h a t

and Chuguev a r e a f e l l t o t h e s o v i e t f o r c e s . 11

I n many a r e a s t h e S o v i e t s e n c o u n t e r e d

little

or

no

r e s i s t a n c e a n d hence c o n t i n u e d t h e i r a d v a n c e . S o v i e t

forces

d r o v e west a l l a l o n q t h e n o r t h e r n and c e n t r a l r e g i o n of Army Group S o u t h . The S o v i e t s c l o s e d i n on Kharkov from t h e n o r t h and s o u t h . T h e 6 9 t h Army i n a crossed
the

bold

attack River

from and at the

Volchansk within Kharkov. southwest

frozen

northern

Donets

twenty-four

h o u r s r e a c h e d t h e German p o s i t i o n s lanked the city to

Soviet cavalry u n i t s

t h r o u g h A n d r e y e v k a , and a p p r o a c h e d M e r e f a . 1 2 I n t h e c e n t e r s e c t o r of Army Group S o u t h


the

Soviet attacked towards

main e f f o r t c o n t nued t h e a d v a n c e .
towards Balak w a r and 3d Mobile Guards

The Group

6th

Army
eopov

Krasnoarmeyskoye

Army

crossed

the

Donets

River near Voroshilograd (Lugansk).

T h e Germans had g r e a t d i f f i c u l t y s t e m m i n g t h e
o f f e n s i v e which c r o s s e d t h e Donetz R i v e r i n f o r c e open a h o l e n o r t h and s o u t h and
The

Soviet tore

of

Voroshilovgrad.
ROstOV,

First

P a n z e r A r m y , h a v i n g moved n o r t h t h r o u g h a new f l a n k between Voroshilovgrad and

established

Pavlograd

in

the

c e n t e r of Army Group S o u t h . 1 4
On t h e n o r t h e r n

flank

of
and

Army

Group
o

South, Kharkov.

Army
No

Detachment L a n z r e t r e a t e d west

north

11

German

units

remained heading

in

front

of

the

Soviet

armored and

spearheads

west

towards 15 DaS

DneprOpetKOVSk

Z a p o r o z h y e on t h e D n i e p e r R i v e r . T h e 2nd SS P a n z e r

Division

Reich

unloaded to
SS

from t h e t r a i n s near Kharkov a s t h e Army Detachment L a n z .

only

reinforcement

I m m e d i a t e l y I l i t l e r o r d e r e d t h e 2nd

Panzer Division t o a t t a c k behind


were n o r t h and w e s t of Kharkov.

the

Soviet

armies

which

16

.
counterattack opposed the

F i e l d Marshal v o n Manstein o p p o s e d t h e

a s f o l l y because s i x Soviet d i v i s i o n s d i r e c t l y

2nd SS P a n z e r D i v i s i o n , i t would h a v e no f l a n k 2 r o t e c t i o n a s

i t a t t a c k e d t o t h e n o r t h , and no r e i n f o r c e m e n t s
the attack.
The

to

aid

in they

Soviets

solved

the

problem assembly

when
area

a t t a c k e d t h e 2nd SS P a n z e r

Division's

near

V o l c h a n s k , n o r t h e a s t of Kharkov. DaS had t o go on

Reich

immediately

the

defensive

to

aid

in

the

defense

of

Kharkov.

17
SOUTHERN FRONT ATTACKS

Near R o s t o v , S o u t h e r n F r o n t o f f e n s i v e . On t h e
4th

joined of

the

coordinated

and

5th Two

February

the
the

Soviets

a t t a c k e d F o u r t h P a n z e r Army.

armies

from

former
already took Panzer

C a u c a s u s F r o n t , t h e 4 4 t h and 5 8 t h ,

joined the three


If

i n place.
ROStOV,

This

threatened

Rostov.

the

Soviets

t h i s would s t o p t h e f u r t h e r movement o f
of
4th

1st
Panzer could

A r m y n o r t h , and t h e e v e n t u a l movement
north. Flithout which

Army
not

the

counterattack

occur

18
The following account
o

combat armored Flalck's

near

ROS~OV

demonstrates t h e t a c t i c a l level e x p e r i e n c e d by Major G e n e r a l

of

operations 11th

as

Hermann

?anzer with

Division. On 23 J a n u a r y , 1 1 t h PanZer,
.!

in

conjunction the

t h e 1 6 t h Motorized I n f a n t r y D i v i s i o n , s t r u c k
~ u s s i a n s and rolled

advancing at

them

back

to

their

bridgehead

Manutchskaya. O n t h e 2 4 t h Balck a t t a c k e d t h e v i l l a g e w i t h o u t s u c c e s s . I t remained e s s e n t i a l t o c a 2 t u r e t h e p l a c e 'tilth i t s


b i g road b r i d q e a c r o s s t h e Nlanich, Ecr u n l e s s
it

cou:d

be
be

t a k e n , a r e ~ e t i t i o no f the S o v l e t a t t a c k on Rostov ".ou:d possible a t

any

time. read to

On

25

January,

the

11th

Panzer

Division orders costs. 19

destroy

the

bridgehead

at

all

The S o v i e t s

had

stronaly

ortiied

the to

town serve

and as

numerous t a n k s were dug i n between t h e h o u s e s bunkers:

t h e y were both d i f f i c u l t t o o b s e r v e and

eliminate.

The i r s t German a t t a c k had f a i l e d i n t h e f a c e of t h e S o v i e t

tank gunners.
For t h e second
attack ealck planned Many southern of to lure the part the

R u s s i a n t a n k s from t h e i r c o n c e a l m e n t .

soviet

t a n k s remained

entrenched

in

the

of

the ire

v i l l a g e . To a c h i e v e t h i s , Balck d i r e c t e d a l l a r t i l l e r y
t o c o n c e n t r a t e on t h e n o r t h e a s t e r n s e c t o r of the

village, cars

f o l l o w e d by a e i n t a t t a c k a t t h i s p o i n t w i t h

armored

and h a l - t r a c k s under t h e cover oE a smoke s c r e e n .

suddenly

13

t h e f i r e of t h e d i v i s i o n a l a r t i l l e r y s h i f t e d t o t h e s o u t h e r n
p a r t of t h e v i l l a g e t o t h e p o i n t of t h e real attack. Only

one a r t i l l e r y b a t t e r y continued t o support t h e f e i n t


w i t h smoke s h e l l s .

attack

20
falling,

W h i l e t h e s h e l l s were s t i l l

the

tanks up

of
the had to The

1 5 t h P a n z e r Regiment c h a r g e d t h e v i l l a g e and r o l l e d d e f e n s e s from s o u t h t o n o r t h . The R u s s i a n

tanks

which

moved t o t h e n o r t h e r n p a r t of t h e v i l l a g e t h e n f e l l p r e y t h e German t a n k s w h i c h a t t a c k e d them che

from
!4anich

the

rear.

Russian

infantry
the

fled brid7.e

across

2i'Jer

:'iirhcur i.lotorcyle

destroyiEg Battalion raged. 21

with
while

the
the

Germn
tank

61st

in

pursuit,

battle

still

A t f i r s t the divisional s t a f f

conducted but later

the

battle the

from a h i l l s o u t h o f

Manutchskaya,

joined and

l e a d i n g t a n k s . German l o s s e s were one

killed

fourteen out.

wounded; on t h e R u s s i a n s i d e twenty t a n k s were knocked

T h i s d e c i s i v e a t t a c k by t h e 1 1 t h P a n z e r D i v i s i o n s t o p p e d t h e

R u s s i a n o f f e n s i v e a g a i n s t Rostov Erom t h e s o u c h . 2 2
MAMSTEIN'S MOBILE DEFENSE

O n 5 F e b r u a r y Army Group

South High

sent

teleprinter outlining Soviet of

message t o

O.K.H.

(German

Army

Command)

demands t o s a v e Army Group S o u t h from t h e f o r c e s . Von Manstein a l r e a d y h a d formed

advancing the

basis

his
the

c o u n t e r a t t a c k p l a n t o s a v e Army Group S o u t h and r e s t o r e i n i t i a t i v e t o t h e German f o r c e s .


14

Von Manstein r e q u e s t e d
r i g h t wing of Army Group South

permission back to

to

withdraw

the

the

Mius

River.
sup~lies

A d d i t i o n a l l y r a i l t r a n s p o r t would be s w i t c h e d Erom

f o r Army Group B t o r e i n f o r c e n e n t s
Also,

or

Army

GKOUF

sou:.$.
13th

1 7 t h Army would t r a n s f e r t o Atmy Group S o u t h t h e

Panzer

Division

and

two

infantry

divisions.

These

r e i n f o r c e m e n t s i n t h e lower Dnieper r i v e r a r e a d o u l d p r c t e c r .

t r a n s p o r t and s u p F l y c o l u m n s . 2 3
T h e r e s p o n s e t o t h e t e l e p r i n t e r messaqe caF,e q u i c i l : / . O n 6 F e b r u a r y a Condcr t r a n s z o r t a i r c : a f t

acri'ied
The

tc

rake

F i e l d i q a r s h a l von M a n s t e i n t o v i s i t H i t i e r .

conference
:~l:
The
At

of

6th

February

opened

with

Hicler

taking Sta:ingrad.
2

r e s p o n s i b i l l t y f o r t h e f a t e of 6 t h Army a t

l a s t e l e m e n t s O F 6 Army had s u r r e n d e r e d on

February. east

t h i s conference H i t l e r agreed t o evacuate the area


t h e D O n e t Z River basin.
T h i s would

of to

allow

von

Manstein

move F o u r t h P a n z e r Army f r o m t h e Rostov a r e a t o


Donetz R i v e r b a s i n t o s l o w t h e S o v i e t main

the

middle OE
the

effort

S o u t h w e s t F r o n t . T h i s depended on F i r s t Panzer Army i n t h e middle


DOnetZ

hoidinq Hollidt

R i v e r a r e a and Army Detachment


24

successfully r e t r e a t i n g to the Mius River l i n e . Returning t o

his

headquarters

on

Fekruary win9
of

von
the

N a n s t e i n o r d e r e d 4 t h P a n z e r Army t o t h e

left

f r o n t and Army Detachment H o l l i d t t o t h e I 4 i u s R i v e r l i n e . He


a l s o began t o t a k e h i s p a n z e r d i v i s i o n s
lines whenever
possible to concentrate
15
OUC

of

the
his

frcn:
planned

for

counterattack. On
8

25

February

the

soviets

broke

out
>,rxy

of

their
:z

b r i d G e h e a d .it 7 / o r s s ~ i l o v q r a d ." : s t

?ar,zec

ailed

s t o p t h e S o v i e t advance i n c h e nicidle 3 o n e t z R i v e r a r e a .

On

9 F e b r u a r y t h e S o v i e t s t o o k a e l g o r o d and K u r s k . T h e
a l s o c c n t i n u e d t h e i r ' i e s t w a r d a d v a n c e sou:?
t h e Donecz R i v e r bend n e a r I s y u m . A t t h i s

Sovieks

of Xharicv
time
the

rcm
German

E r c n t a:ound
up
0:

K u r s i c c c t a i r e d c n l y ? \ t r y Detacnrer:
. .

L a r z , nade
:he
;(j

elements O C t h e arr:v:ng

2nd

ss P a t z e r

~ c r ~a r s d

b a z t e r e d Second Army c f >.try C r C G g 3 nei:

Kurs.~.

T h e S o v i e t Voronezti and s o u t h w e s t F r o n t s h a d a c h i e v e d
t h e c l a s s i c breakthrough

in the

middle

Donetz spi:t

River

area

From Kharkcv tc V o r o s 5 ; l o v q r a d . The Scvie:s S o u t h i n two g i r t s ',iitA o n l y s c : e e n i n g m i d d l e o f t h e army g r o u p . across


the

A r ? y Srou:

d e t a c h 1 n e r . t ~ :n could

tr.e

The

Soviets
o

no:w

advarce 5r.d

Dnieper

niver

north

3nepropet:ovsk Scurh. ;ron

t h r e a t e n t k e r e a r a r e a s o f Army Group r e q u e s t e d from G e n e r a l Z e i t z i e r , C . K . H .

:.qanste:z
txo

C h i e f Cf S t a f ,

new a r m i e s i n two

weeks.

One

army

would

aove

r . o r ~ h of

D n e p c o p e t r o v s k . T h e s e c o n d army would a s s e m b l e west o f K u r s k

f o r a counterattack t o the s c u t h . The armies requested


C.K.H.

fro3

would n e v e r materialize. 2 7 In t h e m i d d l e Donetz

aiver

area,
on

1st

Panzer

Arry

fought

to

prevent

an

envelcpment

both

Elarks

at

V o r c s h i l c v g r a d and a l o n g t h e S i s i c h a c s k - S ? a v y a n s % - i n e , n e a r x r i v o i T c r e t s . T e r r a i n d i c t a t e d '%here 4 0 t h n a n z e r
Corps

of

16

1st Panzer Army c o u l d


supply

counterattack

to

protect

the
found

rail
the

line

at

Kramatorskaya.

Reconnaissance

g r o u n d west of K r i v o i T O r e t S i m p a s s a b l e t o t a n k s b e c a u s e d e e p r i d g e s c o v e r e d I n snow, s o 4 0 t h P a n z e r a l o n g and e a s t of t h e


KriVOi

of

corps

acracked

Torets River valley. ?anzec of corps, :iho told


'ICE

T h e commander cf 4 0 t h
I.lanscein
the

frozen

valley

Krivoi

Torets

remained
nlqh-.
ct'

i m p a s s a b l e t c a r m o r , p r o v e d t o t a l l y wrong.

on

che

11 F e b r u a r y a

detachment

tanks

and

three

:necha:ilzed 'ial!ey
tc

b r i g a d e s from :.lco:le Grou? pcpov p r c c e e d e d u p :he Krasnoarmeiskoye, throuqh w h i c h ran t h e main

railway
the

frcm rail

D n e p r o p e t r o v s k . N c b i l e Group Popov now c o n t r o l l e d

l i n e w h i c h s u p p l i e d a l l cf 1st Panzer Army, A r m y 3 e t a c h n e n t s


H o l l i d t and F r e t t e r - 2 i c o . 2 8

T h e w i d e r t r a c k s of t h e R u s s i a n

T-34

tanks

allowed
This

t h e m t o c r o s s t h e snow where German armor

could

not.
the

new t h r e a t p o s e d a s e v e r e s u p p l y p r o b l e m , b e c a u s e
remaining r a i l l i n e
dt

only

ZaFOKOZhye was n o t e f f i c i e n t
the

because
in
their

t h e b i g Dnieper b r i d g e d e s t r o y e d by

Soviets

1 9 4 1 r e t r e a t remained c l o s e d . A l l s u p p l i e s were now u n l c a d e d


from t h e t r a i n s and moved by t r u c k s from

this

pcint,

thus

i n c r e a s i n g t h e time f o r d e l i v e r y o f s u p p l i e s . 2 9
The

Soviets
A

also

flanked

First

Panzer

Army
to
of

at the
F:rst

Debaltsevo.

Soviet

cavalry

corps

penetrated

i n p o r t a n t r a i l junction of Debaltsevo i n the rear J a n z e r Army and behind the


17

Mius

River

line

that

Arrcy

Detachment

Hollidt

planned

to 17th

occupy. Parizer

The

breakthrough for the

delayed t h e release of t h e upcoming c o u n t e r a t t a c k .

Division

Army

3etachment

Hcllidt,

notiever,

fell

back

as
Arny of

p l a n n e d t o t h e M i u s R i v e r p o s i t i o n s on 1 7 t h

February.

G r o u p S o u t h ' s f l a n k now r e s t e d on t h e Y i u s R i v e r a n d Sea


AZOV.

I n t h e n o t c h O E Army Grou:,

South the

German
and to

infantry Eelqorod. zrotect


action;

d i v i s i o n s S t a b i l i z e d t h e l i n e 'desr o f

Kursk

T h e German i n f a n t r y d i v i s i o n s b e c a m e :he
the

shie!c

flanks

and

1lr.es

of

communicaticns.

'The;?

a l l o w e d t h e c o n c e n t r a t i o n o f t h e armor f o r c e s . 3 0

East

of

Pavlograd
Jivisiqn,

the

new:y

arrived
the

5th
arircr

SS

Panzergrendier

T:ikin5,

attacked

s p e a r h e a d s o f t h e S c u t h v e s t F r o n t . A l o n e t h e y c o u l d n o t stop t h e Soviet. armor advance cowards G r i s h i c . On 1 2 F e b r L a r y


the

Army

Grcup

South rnessage

Headquarters

moved t o Z a F o r o z h y e . Cr. 1 3 F e b r u a r y a a r r i v e d g i v i n g ArRy G r o u p 3's s e c z o r

Ercm
Crocc

C.K.E.

tc

Army

South

( e x c l u s i v e o f B e l c g o r d ) . O.K.!1.

a s s i g n e d S e c o n d Army t c Ar;ny
8.

G r o u p C e n t e r a n d d i s s o l v e d Atmy G r o u p

Unfcrtunately

no

s i g n a l l i n k s h a d b e e n e s t a b l i s h e d w i t h Army G r o u p L a n z Kharkov b e f o r e t h e t r a n s f e r o r d e r a r r i v e d . 31

near

A l l d u r i n g t h e S o v i e t o f f e n s i v e von Planstein p r e p a r e d

h i s counterattack p l a n . This r e o r g a n i z a t i o n S o u t h c o n c e n t r a t e d all forces urder


his

of

hrrny

Group

direct

control,

p r o v i d i n g u n i t y o f command. 32

18

E N D NOTES
CllAPTER T W O

THE M O B I L E DEFENSE

York:
L
1

Z.

l e x a n d e r 'der:h, P. D U t t O n &

CO,

R u s s i a a t ?:at 19641, 570.

1941-1945,

(Xew

D a v i d G l a n t z , From t h e Don t o t h e D n e p r : A Stud oE S o v i e t C f e n s i v e O p e r a t i o n s December 1942 - YAuqust 1 9 4 3 . , ( C a r ! i s l e : U n i t e d S t a t e s A r n y War C o l l e g e , 19841, 102-106.

History,

(i+oscow: i 4 i l i t a r y P u b : i s h i n q
1961!,
2-3.

House of

the

:.!:r,:s:,::i

o 3 e e n s e of t h e USSR,

4Wladyslaw Anders, H i t l e r s !Jeeat i n R u s s i a , ( C h i c a q o : Henry R e q n e r y Com y, 1 9 5 3 ) . 1 4 2 : J o h n Lrickson, -p a n-~ T h e Road T o B e i l i n ; ( 6 i u l d e r : W e s t v i e w . P r e s s , 1 9 6 3 ) , 4 6 . Soviet Military Encyclogedic 3:ctionat-1, 'I01 . . I (Washington D . C . , U.S. G o v e r n m e n t P r i n t i n g OE:ce, 1983!, 4 3 8 , 7 7 7 . Commander o f S o u t h w e s t F r o n t , E l i k o l a y F e d o r 3 v : c k V a t u t i n , j o i n e d t h e S o v i e t Army i n 1 9 2 0 , g r a d u a t e d t o r ; F r u n z e i n 1 9 2 9 , a n d t h e G e n e r a l S t a f f Academy l n 1 9 3 7 . H e was C h i e f o S t a f , N o r t h w e s t F r o n t , i n J u n e 1 9 4 1 a n d 'was D e F u t y C h i e f o S t a f f , S t a v k a , tom May t o J u n e 1 9 4 2 . Commander oE Voronezh F r o n t , F i l i p p Ivanovich Golivkov j o i n e d t h e S o v i e t Army i n i 9 1 8 a n d g r a d u a r e d r o m ? r u n z e i n 1 9 3 3 . Fie cornnanded t h e 1 0 t h Army, 4 t h R s s u a l t Army, a n d t h e B r y a n s k F r o n t .

--

5~~OSc0W I n s t i t u t e of Marxism-Leninism, t h e Great P a t r i o t i c V o l 111, 5 .

War,

Hisrory

of

6 E r i c k s o n , T h e Road T o B e r l i n , 46.
7

E r i c h von

Yanstein,
19821, 405.

Lost

Victories,

(Novato:

?residio Press,

' S . M . S h t e m e n k o , T h e S o v i e t G e n e r a l S t a f a t War 1941-1945, Oloscow: Proqress P u b l i s h e r s , 1 9 7 0 ) . 106. Mobile G r o u p P o p o v s t a r t e d w i t ; o n l y e n o u g h f u e l for ' o n e r e f i l l i n q o f t h e t a n k s . T h e t a n k s c a r r i e d o n e o r t w o s e t s of b a s i c a m m u n i t i o n l o a d . T h e i n f a n t r y d i v i s i o n s h a d even l e s s b a s i c s u p p l i e s a t t h e s t a r t o f t h e o f f e n s i v e t h a n t h e armor a n d m e c h a n i z e d f o r c e s : E r i c k s o n , _The Road To B e r l i n , 4 7 .

19

Erickson,

T h e Road To B

, 48.

E b e r h a r d S c h w a r z , Die S t a b i l i s i e r u n g Irn S u d e n Der Cstfront N I ) e r K a t a s t r o p h e Von S t a l i n g r a d und D e m Ruckzug AUS D e m Kaukasus, ( K o l n : U n i v e r s i t y o f K o l n , 1 9 8 1 ) , 1 3 6 . Erickson,
1L

T n e 3 o a d To aer::?.,

47.

Ibid.,

47.
1941-45,

l 3 A l b e r t S e a t o n , T h e Russo-German War (New York: P r a e q e r P u b l i s h e r s , 197?), 3 4 8 . David

G l a n t z , From :ne
LOSE

son t o t h e 3 n e g r , 1 2 7 .

1 5Y a n s t e i n ,

Iiccories, 405.

161cid., 404. -Charles Sydcor, so?diers of 3estructizr:, ( e r i c c e r c n : e r l n c e c o n :ci:lezsi:y ? r e s s , 1 9 ? 7 i , 2 5 6 ; ;.1ar,scein, Losr V i c t o r i e s , 4 0 4 . @David G l a n t z , F:om
t h e s o n t o t h e J n e c r , $3.
7

~riedrich :.;i?he:n: von s a c t l e s , (sew Y o r k , E a l l a n t i n e , 201bid., 211bic!. 246-250. 246-250.

Mel:enthin, 1971), 246-250.

?inzer

2 2 1 b i d . , 246-250. 2 3 ~ a n s t e i n ,~ c s c v i c t o r i e s , 406.

2 1Donald D e t w i l e r , w o r l d war I T Cerrrar. : . l i : i t a r y s t u d i e s , The O K W War D i a r y S e r i e s , Vol 9 , Part I:/, (!:ex,$ Y o r k : G a r l a n d P u b l i s h i n g , 1 9 7 9 ) , 19:. I i i t l e r w o u l d n o t a g r e e t o a l a r g e s c a l e r e t r e a t across t h e e n t i r e eastern f r o n t , o n l y a l o c a l i z e d r e a d j u s t m e n t ; M a n s t e i n , Lost V i c c o r i e s , 406.
2 5 M a n s t e i n , ~ o s cv i c t o r i e s , 4 1 4 . 261bid., 415.

271bid., 420. 28iilan Cl,ark, Carbarossa, The Russian-Gernan and CClTlFany, C o n f l i c t , 1 9 4 1 - 4 5 ( N e r r Y o r k : N i i l i a m :lorrow 1965), 299.

20

29Manstein, Lost V i c t o r i e s , 4 2 5 . 3 0 F r i e d r i c h S c h u l t z , R e v e r s e s on t h e S o u t h e r n W i n g ( C a r l i s l e : U n i t e d S t a t e s Army war C o l l e g e , 1 9 8 1 ) , 7 7 . 31blanstein, Lost V i c t o r i e s , 4 2 0 . 3 2 C a r l Wagenee, "The C o u n t e r s t r o k e of X X X X Panzer Corps A q a i n s t t h e B r e a k t h r o u g h by N o b i l e Group Popov i n t h e D o n e n t s - Basin , February 1943, NehrwissenschaEtliche (Januar:i, RUndSChaU 7 / 1 , t r a n s l a t e d by R i c h a r d S i n p k i n , 1 9 5 4 ) : i l - 1 2 ; X a n s t e i n , Lost V i c t o r i e s , 4 2 1 .
I ,

21

CHAPTER T H R E E
M A N S T E I N 'S COUNTERATTACK

Bold d e c i s i o n s g i v e t h e b e s t p r o m i s e of s u c c e s s . E r w i n Rommel: T h e R o m e 1 ? a p e r s

: a p p r o v e o f all mechods of a t t a c k i n g p r o v i d e d :key


a r e d i r e c t e d a t t h e p o i n t where t h e enemy's acmy i s weakest and where t h e t e r r a i n f a v o r s t h e n t h e l e a s t Frederick t h e Great: I n s t r u c t i o n or H i s Generals, XVI:
A s w i f t and vigorous t r a n s i t i o n t o atzack--

t h e l a s h i n g sword of vengeance--

is t h e most b r i l l i a n t p o i n t c f :he d e f e n s i v e .
C l a u s e w i c z : C n >!at

--.

SCVIZT SUCCZSS AP!D L C G I S T I C ?RCRLE:,!S The s t r u q y l e on and o f f tile b a t k l e f i c l d w r s e n e d F i e l d M a r s n a l vcn A a n s t e i n a s he fcugh: both 3it:er and

tor
the

S o v i e r f c r c e s . O n 1 3 February FIitler o r d e r e d A r n y 3etachren: Lanz t o h o l d Kharkov a t a l l c o s t s w i t h the


2nd
SS

?ar.zer

C o r p s , which s t i l l o n l y had two p a n z e r d i v i s i o n s . The f o u r t n l a r g e s t c i t y i n t h e S o v i e t Union p o s s e s s e d g r e a t >ropaganda


did

v a l u e f o r borh H i c l e r and S t a l i n . U n f o r t u c a t e l y , l i t l e r

n o t seem

TOO

concerned abcut ancther S t a l i n g r a d .

1 remaining,
n3t

On 1 5 t h F e b r u a r y w i t h o n l y one e x i t r o u t e

Waffen SS G e n e r a l Hausser d i r e c t l y d i s o b e y e d o r d e r s

tc
SS

r e t r e a t f r o m Kharkov. O n h i s own i n i t i a t i v e , t o s a v e h i s

C o r p s , ne e v a c u a t e d Kharkov chouqh t w i c e d i r e c t l y o r d e r e d by H i t l e r t o remain i n t h e c i t y . General Hausser


L

refused

:c

have h i s forces trapped i n another S t a l i n g r a d .

B e s i d e s h i s e l i t e SS Far.zer d i v i s i c n s t h i s c s r ~ sa l s o i n c l u d e d t h e Army

?anzer

3ivision
LL

Gross

aeucschland.

E a c h of t h e s e p a n z e r d i v i s i o n s h a d one r e g i m e n t o f T i g e r 1 t a n k . T h e new T i g e r I w i t h i t s 88mm

the gun

new was

main
and

v a s t l y s u p e r i o r t o t h e S o v i e t T-34 i n E i r e p o w e r b u t l e s s m a n e u v e r a b l e a n d slo'de:.

armor,

These p a n z e r d i v i s i o n s h a d

r e s t e d a n d were n e a r f u l l s t r e n g t h . T h e y w o u l d h a v e

crucial

roles i n t h e coning c o u n t e r a t t a c k . 3
At

first

glance,

the

Soviec
a

offensive hundred

appeared

u n s t o p p a b l e . i*!ith c h e a l ? of K h a r k c v bet'.reen G e r m a n u r . i t s e x i s t e d i n t h e S o u t h . ? o r a hcr.dred ?i!es n o r t h a n d

rr.i:e
Army

ga?
G::;L,>

center
S C U : ~

ct'
of

: i h a r ! < 3 v :he

r e m a i n i n g German u n i t s c o u l d o n l y s c r e e n t h e S o v i e t a d v a n c e . I l o w e v e r , t h e S o v i e t a r a i e s were a t t h e en3 o f their


the

sclpFly soctherr,

lines and the chance t o

flank

and

encircle

German f o r c e s i n Army G r o u F S o u t h b e g a n t o f i x a t e S t a v k a a n d
the

Front

commanders.

Stavka

and

the

Front

commanders south.
r.ew

t h o u g h t t h e Germans were d e f e a t e d i n Army G r o u p e v e r w e a k e n i n g co:umns

The

of S o v i e t armor r e c e i v e d

orders
of

f r o m S t a v k a t o b r o a d e n t h e o f f e n s i v e . For t h e pursuit, the violated. 4 V o r o n e z h F r o n t o r d e r e d i t s 3 r d T a n k Army south to Poltava, w i t h other ideas

sake

tke

of

concentration

and

mass

would

be

to

advance

units

movinq

on

Xremenchuc.

S o u t h w e s t F r o n t d i r e c t e d 6 t h Army west t o t a k e Z a p o r o z h e a n d then

Nelitopol.

These

new

orders

caused

voronezh

and

S o u t h w e s t F r o n t s t o d i v e r g e f r o m each o t h e r . T h e maili e f f o r : .

of v o r o n e z h F r o n t p r o c e e d e d west, and Southwest F r o n t t o t h e

south. 5
The

depleted

state

of

the

forces

dictated

c o n c e n t r a t i o n , n o t d i s p e r s a l . Elobile Group popov, S c u t k w e s t F r c n t , W i t h 4 t h G u a r d s , 1 6 t h , 3 r d , and

from
10th

the
Tank

C o r p s had o n l y 1 3 , 0 0 0 men and 5 3 t a n k s . Mobile


had l o s t 9 0 t a n k s i n two d a y s of
battle.
To

Group
help

?opov
:.lobile

Group Popov, 1 s t Guards Corps t r a n s f e r r e d s e v e r a l


t h e m . T h e r e s t of
1s:

2 n i . t ~ to

GbGards

xould

qc

or

cke

defensi.de,
this
see?

h o l d i n g t h e Slavyansk-Xizhne Gcrskoe

;ine.

~t had

poir.~
!os:

h a l f o f t h e t a c k s t r e c o t ? c f S o u t h : ~ e s : Fr::.?:
i n b a t t i e o r t o rnechankcal o r e a k d o w n s . 6
TO S t a v k a a n d t h e F r o n t Commanders t h e

race
tkai;,

was

01'.

for

the

Scvie:

acniies

tc

bed:

?;

-.ie

Ger:nan
Arr.y

r e i n f o r c e m e n t s , and t h e i r own

exhaustion

to

destroy of

Group S o u t h . By 1 2 F e b r u a r y c h e f i r s t

reporcs

problems divisions

from S o v i e t d i v i s i o n commanders a p p e a r e d . S e v e r a l

w e r e down t o 1 0 0 0 m e n , and a few g u n s of m o r c a r s , b u t S t a v k a


i g n o r e d t h e s e i i a r n i n a s and o r d e r e d t h e arxy

seize t h e i r objectives d e p s i t e these l o s s e s . '

-.

cormanders

cc

Stavka a l s o f a i l e d t o r e a l i z e t h a t t h e

German

anits

were n o t s t a n d i n g and d y i n g i n p l a c e . T h e German f c r c e s were


r e t r e a t i n g t o a n c s i t i o n t h a t narrowed t h e i r b r o u g h t t h e German forces closer
eo

Crcntaqe, supplies

ar.2
and

their

t a c t i c a l a i r power. T h e S o v i e t p o s i t i o n remained e x a c t l y t h e o p p o s i t e . Though t h e S o v i e t F r c n t s q a i n i e d g r o u c d , t h e y n o t d e s t r o y e d t h e German o r c e s .


24

had

General Frido

Von

Senger,

commander on the one

of

the

17th
the

Panzer D i v i s i o n , o b s e r v e d t h a t when Germar. c o r p s o r h i q h e c comnar,der k e p t companies o a p a n z e r d i v i s i o n as a

defensive

or

txo

armcred force.

counterattack

T h e y o f t e n became d e t a c h e d from t h e i r d i v i s i o n t o a t t a c k t h e
p e n e t r a t i n g enemy a r m o r . ?he German p a n z e r s would a t t a c k :he enemy f l a n k s . When t h e ! ; o v i e t s a t t a c k e d t h e f r o n t a l the tanks proved su!,erior
co

defense asti-tan<

all

other

veapons. 9
The panzer divisions as a r e s c l t of

their

.. :i:cb::::>
defensive enemy
cc;

and

firepower

became

the

best

choice

in

o p e r a t i o n s . Motorized r e s e r v e s q u i c k l y reacced t o t h e t h r e a t . The modern n o b i l e d e f e n s e i s o r g a n i z e d t o the enemys moves.


~t

react

is

not

:ust

stacic

line

cf

deeenses. 10 The German m o b i l e d e f e n s e q u i c k l y commitment o t h e s l e n d e r F r o n t r e s e r v e s caused dl;e


t3

the

rapld
h ~ g h

the

l o s s e s of S o v i e t a r m o r . The 88tn and 1 1 3 t h Tank B r i g a d e s 3 r d Tank A r m y , Voronzh F r o n t , f i e l d e d a t o t a l of s i x >:hen

zf

tanks. armor forces

the

3rd

Tank

Army

commander

requested the

r e i n f o r c e m e n t s or r e s e r v e s , Golikov s t a t e d t h a t were a d e q u a t e f o r t h e p u r s u i t i n p r o g r e s s . 11
The r e l e n t l e s s Soviet pressure continued.

Durinc;

18

February a Soviet

Cavalry broke

Corps

of

three
the

divisions

and line

mechanized a r t i l l e r y

through

MLUS

River

between t h e German F r e t t e r - P i c 0 g r o u p and 1 7 t h C o r p s . :McVing


25

by n i g h t a n d a v o i d i n g

German

strong

points,

the

Cavalry railway, and


:his

c o r p s emerged a t D e b a l t s e v o on t h e m a i n

east-west

forty

miles

behind

the

Front.

Here

they

attacked corps.

d e s t r o y e d two t r a i n s c r e i n o r c e n e n t s f o r 17::

l e f t t h e Tagantog-Nariupol
Or

railway as the only s u p ~ l y rcute

a l l t h e s o u t h e r n o r c e s c Arny Group S o ~ l t hd e f e n d i n g cn

the Mius r i v e r l i n e .
Other
problems

also

hindered
da:r

vor

?lacstein.

-he

p r o m i s e d thLrcy-se'den

trccp trains a
to
he

fcorr
six

C,K.i4,

fsr

army Crou?

S c ~ t ? . pco'ied

or;:/

zralns
SS

cn

14

F e b r u a r y . Von Manstein would o n l y r e c e i v e t h e 2 n d and t h r e e i n f a n t r y d i v i s i c n s a s r e i n c r c e T e n t s .


I n t h e c e n t e r of army
* >

Ccrs

Group

Scut:i

Sostkxest

?rcr.t

c o n t i n u e d t h e a t t a c k and a d v a n c e . Cr. : 6 February t h e ScvLets a d v a n c e d toward P a v l o q r a d and a n e p r o p e t r o v s k r c r ,


the

area

west o I s y u m . Army Group C e n t e r , c o t h e n o r t h , anncur.ced I t


could not counterattack

in

ccoperaticn

:.;it?

Arny

Group

S o u t h . F i e l d K a r s h a l von Man s t ei n m u l d o n l y have t h e f o r c e s


i.n Arniy Group S o u t h t o s t o p t h e t h r e e S o v i e t rants. 14
VON M A N S T E I N ' S ? L A N

Concerned o v e r t h e p o t e n t i a l l o s s o f : h e

gonets g i v e r
01;

b a s i n , H i t l e r returned or another r e e t i n g v i t h Xanstein 17 February at Zaporozhye. Southwest Front It

arrrored required
of

s p e a r h e a d s were s e v e n t y f i v e miles t o t h e e a s t .

twc

days

for

vcrr
15

Xanstein

to

convince

Hirler

?is

counterattack glan.

26

S i m p l i c i t y drove Kansteins counterattack p l a n . F i r s t h e planned t o c o n c e n t r a t e a l l t h e panzer divisions irould into a

c o u n t e r a t t a c k f o r c e o f txc g r o u p s . One p i n c e r

attack on the

on t h e n o r t h f l a n k of S o u t h w e s t F r o n t

and

another

s o u t h f l a n k . T h e p a n z e r f o r c e s would s t r i k e i n a c o o r d i n a t e d d o u b l e p i n c e r a t t a c k b e h i n d t h e S o v i e t armored s p e a r h e a d s ir.


t h e c e n t e r o f Army Group S o u t h .
The

second

phase

cE

the

counterattack mu:d t o t a k e Kharkov. 16

r e F e a t t h e t h e c o o r d i n a t e d doub:e

cincer

Von Manstein hzd needed e o r e t r e a t frorr t n e

orioi~a:

army g r o u p p o s i t i o n s f o r s e v e r a l r e a s o n s . F i r s t , t n e S o v i e t s
had b r o k e n h i s l i n e i n t h e c e n t e r . S e c o n d , w i t h t h e passage :ecreat the

of 1st and 4 t h P a n z e r Armies from R o s t o v , h e

coulc!

i n t h e south and shorten h i s defensive

lines.

Lastly,

s h o r t e n e d d e f e n s i v e l i n e s would e n a b l e t h e p a n z e r to

divisions near
The

withdraw

to

the

counterattack

assembly

areas

K r a s n o d a r , K r a s n o a r n e i s k , D n e p c o p e t r o v s k , and P a v o q r a d . infantry divisions would hold the flanks Soviet leavinq


of

the

c o u n t e r a t t a c k f o r c e and d e f e a t
H i t l e r approved 17 February
the

subsequent before

attacks. on 19

counterattack

T h e v o n Manstein p l a n a l s o r e l i e d on

readicq

Soviet main
the

i n t e n t i o n s . By 2 0 F e b r u a r y , b a s e d on t h e d i r e c t i o n and e f f o r t of t h e S o v i e t a r m o r , von Manstein e l t S o v i e t p l a n oE a t t a c k and i n t e n t i o n s . H e

sure

of

thought

Southwest

F r o n t would a t t e m p t t o e n c i r c l e t h e s o u t h e r n f o r c e s oE 27

Army

Group S o u t h . S o u t h e r n F r o n t

would

attack

to

linkup

with

S o u t h w e s t F r o n t a n d Voronezh F r o n t would a t t e m p t t o e n c i r c l e German forces


'west

oE

Kharkcv.

iiis

assumptions

~rcved

c o r r e c t . 18
T h e 2 0 t h of F e b r u a r y p r o v e d t o be t h e h i g h t h e S o v i e t t n r e a t . O n 2 1 F e b r u a r y t h e German f o r c e s point on of :he

M i u s R i v e r d e f e a t e d :he
Southern Front.
Tt-,e

attempted forces

Soviet

breakthrough the

of

Germar.

destrc:/ed
The

Scvie'l

c a v a l r y c o r p s w h i c h had broker. t h r c G q h .

Ge:rr.an

fcrces

alsc

er.circled

the

3r2

Guards

;.!echanized

Czr?s.

-. h e s e

a c t i o n s b r o k e t h e S o v i e t e f f o r t of S o u t h e r n F r o n t . 1 9 SOVIET MISTAKES A N D N:SPERCSPTIOMS Also on 2 0 F e b r u a r y


the

Luft,waffe coup. that

radio
They

intercepz ic-ercepted

service provided

an

intelligence

r a d i o t r a n s n i s s i c c s and r e p o r t e d n e a r Kramatorska:ia

Mobile

Group

lopov
the
6th

had n e t r e c e i v e d any s u p p l i e s . Tank

A ~ S C ,

S o v i e t armor f o r c e a t Zaporozhye ( 2 5 t h

Corps

A r m y ) had r u n o u t o f f u e l 1 2 miles f r o m - h e tcwn. "is

vital arn!or

i n f o r m a t i o n e r a s e d t h e t h r e a t from
f o r c e s of S o u t h w e s t F r o n t .
The

the

xiin effort

Sovie: of

main

Southwest

F r o n t , w h i c h von M a n s t e i n p l a n n e d t o a t t a c k f i r s t , c o u l d n c t a t t a c k o r r e t r e a t . A l s o von l o c a t i o n of t h e s e Soviet

:Aanstein
armor

now

knew In
the

:he

exact

forces.

upcoming
20

c o u n t e r o f f e n s i v e t h e y would be d e s t r o y e d p i e c e m e a l . Unknown ccmmanders to

vcn

Manstein, aid
28

Stavka

and

the

Front
Their

would

greatly

his

counterattack.

perceptions of

the

battlefield

situation

proved

utterly had ~ront German ater

wrong. Soviet reconnaissance and observed the German arnor intelligence reports

intelligence

sources

concentrations. 10-26 and ebruary

Southxest noted

or

concentrations near Krasnodar

Krasnoaraeisk
Of

17
S.

February. The Southwest Front Chief P. Ivanov, and the senior

StafE, Lt Generai

inte ligence

oficer, #a!or

General Rogov ccncluded that this was a withdraval C E trcops

rom the Don River to the oneiper itiver. Both

Soviet

Front

ccnmanders shared the same views that tke Germans iere s-.iL: in retreat. L
l

In addition, nc major German armor forces

vere

seen

in ?oltava, and no rail or road movements had ceen seen frc:? west to east. 1n:elligence did not contradict the staffs. On 21 reports roc1 agents and partisans
of

perceptions Stalin

the

senioc

Soviet
of

February,

ordered

Deputy

ChieE

Operations (General StaEf), Lt General A . N . eogolyubov, ind out what was really going on in Chief of Staf the Front, Don River

tc

area. General

of

the

Southern

Major
of
20

Varennikov told General Bogolyubov that as solid enemy columns were retiring west

February the oon

from

River. L L The Soviet operational commanders, however, draw the same conclusions. General Popov, Front Commander General KuZne:SoV, and leader of Mobile southwest GrouF
Army,

did

not

oeputy acd

?opov,

Commander of 1st Guards


29

Southwes:

F r o n t , d i d n o t b e l i e v e t h e Germans were i n f l i g h t Don R i v e r . T h e i r a r g u m e n t s t o t h e F r o n t vain.


LJ

from

the in

commander

were

Again on 1 9 a n d

20

February

Soviet

reconnaissance near armor :Jacut :n ric:::t

a i r c r a f t r e p o r t e d l a r g e c o n c e n t r a t i o n s of German armor K r a s n o g r a d , t r o o p movements reqrouping to ..he at Dnepropetrovsk, of Krasnoarneisk. Southxest 7rzn:s

and

scutneast

perceived these concen:raticns

or!

f l a n k a s a c o v e r i n c a r r r o r f o r c e f c r :he
f r o m t h e Don.

infantry

ciiiisions

ic reali-y,

t h e s e x e c e :he

csncestratisns

of

ist a n d 4 t h P a n z e r Arrnies
r e a d y i n g t o assau::.

von M a n s t e i n s s o u c h c r n
24

pincer,

Southwest F r o n t .

T h e c o n s e q u e n c e s of c h e s e m i s p e r c e g t i o n s r e s u l t e d

in

S o u t h w e s t F r o n t s C h i e f of S t a f f , L: signing movements an operational

Genera? S .
which

2.

Ivanov, confirmed

appraisement Panzer sector Corps by

of

the
the
70

48:h rile

reconcaissance Pokrcvskoe
snd

a i r c r a f t on

between were

S t a l i n o . 3e b e l i e v e d t h a t t h e s e f o r c e s

prcof

cf

the

c o n t i n u e d German w i t h d r a w l from t h e Don R i v e r a r e a . 2 5 C o n s e q u e n t l y , on 1 9 F e b r u a r y V a t u t i n o r d e r e d P O F O V t o a d v a n c e west w i t h a l l p o s s i b l e s p e e d . O n 20 F e b r u a r y V a t u t i n

refused

to

change

Kharitonovs

6th

Army
tney

orders wect,

so

it

c o n t i n u e d t o a t t a c k t o t h e west. i n t o von w a n s t e i n s t r a p .
26

West

fcrther

30

MANSTEINS COUNTERATTACK

THE G E R M A N S O U T I I E R N P I N C E R ATTACKS 3y 2 0 F e b r u a r y F i e l d X a r s h a l von Manstein a s s e r b l e c i a p a n z e r a t t a c k f o r c e o f f i v e c o r ~ s .T h e 2nd SS, 3 r d , 4 0 t h , 4 8 t h a n d 5 7 t h were t o


five

panzer

corps,

demonstrate

their

o E f e n s i v e a b i l i t i e s c n c e a g a i n . F o r t h e E i r s t time s i n c e t h e f a l l campaign t o
take

Stalingrad,

the

panzer

Eocces

ir:
For

s o u t h e r n R u s s i a c o n c e n t r a t e d f o r a b a t t 1 e oE

::ianecver.

t h e a t t a c k t h e Fourch Panzer

Army

would
sith

attack 2nd

r.orth<xarc

from n e a r U n e p r o p c t r o v o s k and

linkup

ss

Panze:

Corps a t t a c k i n g t o t h e s o u t h t o d e s t r o y t h e S o v i e t 6 t h Army.

F i r s t P a n z e r Army w o u l d e n c i r c l e a n d
Popov a n d 1st G u a r d s A ~ n y .
27

destroy

Nobile

Croup

The 48th Panzer Carps

opened

the

counterattack

on

morning of 20 F e b r u a r y n e a r P a v l o g r a d . l i g h t t h e L u E t w a f f e t a c t i c a l bombers
6 t h Army. Then 48tn Panzer Corps

I n the early

morning

attacked

Xharitonovs tank, one eas:

destroyed Pavlograd.

two

r i f l e and one c a v a l r y c o r p s

near

Further

5 7 t h P a n z e r c o r p s a t t a c k e d b e h i n d t h e S o v i e t 6 t h Army. 28

Next 4 0 t h P a n z e r C o t p s a t t a c k e d

Nobile

Group and

Popov only Popov to

n e a r G r i s h i n o . M o b i l e G r o u p Popov h a d l i t t l e u e l 25 t a n k s left. During


the

night

OE

21

February

u r g e n t l y r e q u e s t e d p e r m i s s i o n from V a t u t i n t o p u l l t h e n o r t h o f K r a s n o a r m e i s k 20 miles away. Vatutin

back

answered

no. 2 9
T h e 48th Panzer CorFs c o n t i n u e d i t s advance and drove

31

deep

into

Kharitonovs Kharitonovs

6th

Army

right from

flank.
Vatutin

Though remained 4iver the

attacked,

orders

unchanged: a t t a c k t o :he

west and c r c s s

the

3n;eper actacked

and t a k e D n e p r o p e t r o v s k . The 3rd Panzer Corps

f l a n k of S o u t h w e s t F r o n t west o f V o r o s h i l o g r a d . 3 0
THE G E R M A X N04THEREI P I N C E R ATTACKS

Also on 2 0 F e b r u a r y t h e 2nd SS Panzer Corps

actacked Sovie:. ?anzer

f r c a :.he n o r t h t c e n c i r c l e t h e S o v i e t 6 t h A r ? y .
6 t h Army r e p o r t e d :.he at:ack

The
: Er h

o f t h e 2-d

SS and

Corps. S t i l l undaunted, Vatutin did r o t

alter

Khar:zonovs

o r d e r s t o a t t a c k t o t h e west.The S o v i e t 6 t h Army s e n t a d:vision


cf
25ch

Tank ten

C o r p s t o w a r d s Z a p o r o z h e , c u t :he

t a n k s r a n c u t cf
Corps

fuel

m i l e s froill t h e town. The m i n f o r c e o 2 5 t h isolated f i f t y miles

remained
6th

from

the

main

force

of

Army,
43th their

r u n n i n g low on f u e l and ammunition. Unknown

tc

then,

Panzer Corps a c c a c k e d ? a v ? o g r a d f r o 3 che e a s t , cl;:cing

l i n e of communicaticn. 3 2
Even by 2 2 F e b r u a r y S t a v k a and Commander, the Southwest a crcnt German cause

Vatutin,

refused

to

believe

c o u n t e r o f f e n s i v e was i n p r o g r e s s . T h e y

felt

no

for

a l a r m . ilowever, t h e S o v i e t 6 t h Army found i t s e l f f i g h t i n g t c e s c a p e d e s t r u c t i o n . A l r e a d y t h e p a n z e r f o r c e s had t h e 1 0 6 t h R i f l e B r i g a d e and 2 6 7 t h R i f l e encirlced The

Divisicn.

1st
their

Guards Tank C o r p s and 4 t h Guards Rif1.e Corps r e J e r s e a

d i r e c t i o n and t u r n e d t o i g h c t h e German E h r e a t t o t k e e a s t . 32

T h e 2 5 t h Tank C o r p s a t t e m p t e d t o r e g r o u p a l o n g t h e z a p o r o z h e road. M o b i l e Group Popov s i m u l t a n e o u s l y o u g h t 40th the Panzer road

C o r p s a n d r e t r e a t e d t o t.he n o r t h w e s t t o b l o c k

tc

B a r v e n k o v c . 33
Cn t h e
night

of

21

February

the
the

Voroenzh

Front
threat.

Commander, G o l i k o v , r e a c t e d q u i c k l y t o Golikov ordered 69th and 3rd Tank

German
to
sko?

Armies

their south,
agains'.

t % e s t e r n d r i v e o n :he
and

3neiper River, prepace t o


SS

turn

attack

the

2nd

Panzer

Corps

cperating

K h a r i t o n o v s o u t h c f K h a r k o v . 34 Golikov's

armies

aced

severe

shortages

in

men,

e q u i p m e n t , a n d s u p p l i e s . T h e S o v i e t l o g i s t i c a l system f a i l e d t o s u p p l y e v e n t h e b a s i c s . Armor s u p p o r t or
the

infantry

b a r e l y e x i s t e d , t h e t r o o p s r e m a i n e d s h o r t cf a m m u n i t i o n , a n d G o l i k o v went so f a r as to ccnscript local

men

in

their
hours Gross

p e a s a n t gear t o b o l s t e r t h e i n f a n t r y f o r c e . W i t h i n 48 6 9 t h a n d 3 r d T a n k Armies r a n i n t o

nanzer

Div:sion

D e u t s c h l a n d . The S o v i e t c o u n t e r a t t a c k f a i l e d t c rescue t h e S o v i e t 6 t h Army. 35

By t h e n i g h t

of

23-24

February

General
reported by had

Vatutin's
to Stavka

s i t u a t i o n b e c a m e d e s p e r a t e . He i n a l l y
that h i s right divisions

lank
400

iJas
tanks.

under The

attack
Front

three
no

Germar.

with

anti-tank
Corps con

reserves l e f t . V a t u t i n o r d e r e d 6 t h Guards Rile


Slavyansk t o BarveEkovo-Lozovaya

t o s t o p t h e Germzn a d v a n c e , support to stop the

a l t h o u g h i t h a d no armor o r a n t i - t a r . k 33

German p a n z e r s . 36
By 2 4 F e b r u a r y v o n Manstein's c o u n t e r o f f e n s i v e f o r c e d

S o u t h w e s t F r o n t on Corps,

t:le

defensive.

The

Soviet received

25th orders

Tank

east

of

Zaporozhye,

finally

tc

r e t r e a t n o r t h w a r d b u t t h e i r t a n k s h a d no f u e l . ! < o b i l e
P o p o v r e t r e a t e d t o B a r a v e n k o v Erom G r i s h i n o and lcined

Group

two

d i v i s i o n s of 6th Gaards R i f l e Corps. X i t h t h i s reinforcement


?o?oV h a d 3 5 T-34s a n d 1 5 T-70

(:iqht)

tanks.

37

G e n e r a ? V a t u t i n , on 2 5 F e b r u a r y ,
ELar,k
o Sou:h',iest

ordered deer.s:ve

tne and the

rich:
asked three
TC

F r o n t tr: go cn t h e

stavka t o send reinfcrcements quickly.

None

of

f r o n t s h a d a n y r e s e r v e s t o c o u n t e r t h e German o f f e n s i v e .

make m a t i e r s w o r s e , a l l t a n k r e p a i r u ~ i t sa e r e :\'ell
w i t h t h e t a n k c o r p s . T h i s s i g n i f i e d t h a t m o s t cE
the

for:;arc
tanks

sent t o t h e rear f o r r e p a i r s a t u n r e p a i r e d . The mobile


repair shops promised or Vatukin's Front a r r i v e d . 38
A t B a r v e n k o v c cn t h e 2 6 t h o f F e b r u a r y ,

tank

never

the

rennants
lasz

o f M o b i l e G r o u p P o p o v a n d 1st G c a r d s A f n y

made

their

s t a n d . T h e l a s t f i f t y t a n k s of t h e 1 3 t h Guards T a n k a n d 4 t h G u a r d s T a n k C o r p s h a d nc f u e l . O n 28
co

Brigade the

February

German p a n z e r s
R i v e r . 39

broke

through

this

force

t5e

DCneis

O n t h e e v e n i n g o f 28 F e b r u a r y S t a v l t a f i n a l l y t o Manstein's c o u n t e r a t t a c k . S t a v k a reacted
tcc

reacted

late
frcn

and che

w i t h t o o l i t t l e . S t a v k a t r a n s f e r r e d 3 r d Tank A r m y

34

Vorenzh F r o n t t o S o u t h w e s t F r o n t t o c o u n t e r a t t a c k t h e German armor a t t a c k i n g 6 t h Army. 4 0 The 3 r d Tank Army n e v e r made i t o u t oE a r e a , b e c a u s e 2nd SS Panzer Corps and
its

assernb!:~ taccical

LutwaEe

bombers a t t a c k e d i t . By 4 March t h e e n c i r c l e d 3 r d T a n k had only 5 0 t a n k s l e f t .

Atmy

41
2nd the
SS

W i t h t h e l i n k u p oE

Panzer
6th

Corps

and

48th

Panzer C o r p s a t t t e . D o n e t s ,

Soviet

hrrny
to

and

?st

G u a r d s A r m y , under heavy a t t a c k , f e l l
R i v e t n e a r r z y u m . Akandoninrj a 1 1 r h e ; r

back

the

Donets
::ley

heavy equipmerat 6th

c r o s s e d t h e f r o z e n r i v e r t o a v o i d e n c i r l e m e n t . The

and

1st Guards Armies e x i s t e d i n name o n l y . T h e


destroyed Soviet corps. 42
This first

German
4th

panzers Tank

25th,

3rd,

iOth,

and

GEards

German

double

envelopment

resulted

in

23,000 S o v i e t dead on t h e b a t t l e E i e l d . The S o v i e t s a l s o i o s t 615 t a n k s , 3 5 4 a r : i l l e r y p i e c e s , and 6 9 a n t i - a i r c r a t


gun:.

O n l y 9 , 0 0 0 p r i s o n e r s were t a k e n . W i t h o n l y p a n z e r Eorces
c l o s e t h e e n c i r c l e m e n t s , l a r g e gaps allowed Soviet troops e s c a p e on o o t a c r o s s t h e Donetz R i v e r .
KHARKOV:

to
t C

43

THE SECOND E N C I R C L E M E N T

Field

Marshal

von not

Manstein desire to

had
halt,

won
but

d e c i s ve rather tc

v i c t o r y , but h e did

i n l i c t even g r e a t e r l o s s e s on h i s f o e s . His major o b j e c t v e became t o d e E e a t t h e s o v i e t o r c e s around Kharkov b e o r e t n e impending thaw would h a l t m o b i l e o p e r a t i o n s i n a s e a oE mud.
35

O n t h e s o u t h e r n M i u s R i v e r t h e thaw had a l r e a d y begun by t h e

f i r s t week of March. 4 4
For t h i s s e c o n d e n c i r l e m e n t F o u r t h ?ar.zer A r ~ y would a t t a c k s o u t h f r o m n e a r K r a s n o g r a d . The 2 n d Ss ianzer Corss

w o u l d a t t a c k f r o m t h e west and n o r t h f r o m v a l k i t o
t h e envelopment of Xharkov. General
64th,

complete vcronezh
Arry

Golikov 3rd

of

?rOnt only possessed 6 9 c n ,


S c u t h w e s t F r o n t ) t o de'enr! \west of B e l o o r o d .

and

Tan6
had

(of
arrry

K h a r k o v . lie a!sc

3Or.h

The 4 0 t h l a n z e c C c r p s , on 7 Karch,
f r c n n e a r Krasnograd and two d a y s l a t e r

rec3n;ed t h e a t z a c k

oFer.ea

20

m:le :he :4arch and

h o l e between 6 9 t h and 3 r d T a n k Army. t h r e a t t o h i s x e s t e r r . armored ordered the divisions siest

Gclikcv
acd

realized
c!:
2

spearheads of Kharkov

at

Akhtyrka

P o l t a v a t o r e t i r e e a s t on 2 March. The 2 n d SS Panzer however, on

Ccrs, of

10

March

captured

the

northern route tc

suburbs
:he

Xharkov, s e v e r i n g t h e S o v i e t River e a s t of t h e c i t y . 4 5

escape

Dor.ets

Panzer D i v i s i o n G r o s s D e u t s c h l a n d

moved

towards brouqht

B e l g o r o d . The t h r e a t t o t h e n o r t h e r n V o r o n e z h F r c n t

a s t r o n g Stavka r e a c t i o n . Stavka ordered reicforcements f r o ~ r . Central Front, battle. Central just north of Voronezh Front,

inco

:he

FKOnt

Commander,

General

Rokossovskii,

d i r e c t e d Zlst, 6 4 t h , and 1st Tank Armies s o u t h t o u a r d s K u r s k t o b l o c k t h e German a d v a n c e . 4 6 General Vatutin t r i e d t o


36

block

the

2nd

SS

?anzer

Corps advance w i t h 6 9 t h Army. A t t h i s p o i n t

the

69th

Aciny

f i e l d e d no t a n k s , a n d les s t h a n 1 0 0 g u n s , a n d i t s a v e r a g e d a mere 1 0 0 0 m e n . 4 1
As t h e 2nd SS C o r p s n e a r e d Khar!tov,

divisions

Field Rarsha; !warned

von

e Manstein ordered them t o e n c i r c l e t h e c i t y . H


t h r e e times t o a v o i d t h e h i g h c a s u a l t i e s
s t r e e t figh-ing,

then

of

house-to-house Stalingrad.
a

6 s h a d h a p F e n e d e a r l i e r a:

/on

M a n s t e i n s x e c h a n i z e d d i v i s i o n w o u l d have been a!: d i s a d v a n t a g e i n c i t y f i g h t i n g , w i t h c u t :he infantry d i v i s i o n s held the lanXs and

severe German oE
I

iceantry. shoulders

?.in
.

e n v e l o p m e n t s a n d hence r e m a i n e d u n a v a i l a b l e . 4 3 F o u r t h P a n z e r A r m y , on 1 2 > l a r c h , c o n t i n u e d : t s at:acX and d e s t r o y e d our

corps

the

Soviet

3rd

Tank

Army

s o u t h w e s t of Kharkov. T h e poor s t a t e o t h e S o v i e t a r m i e s i n

m e n , a r m o r , a n d s u p p l i e s c o u l d n o t h o l d b a c k 2nd

Ss

Panzer to the

C o r p s a n d 4 t h P a n z e r A r m y . O n 1 4 March K h a r k o v f e l l
SS C o r p s . C n 1 8 March P a n z e r D i v i s i o n G r o s s

Deutschland to retake

t o o k B e l g o r o d . The S o v i e t a r m o r e d

counterattack

t h e c i t y f a i l e d . 49
W i t h t h e German A r m y G r o u p C e n t e r u n a b l e o r u n w i i l i n g

t o a t t a c k from f u r t h e r N o r t h , t h e t h a w
e x h a u s t i o n rom t h e c o m b a t o t h e last

beginning,

and

the

three

months,

the

German c o u n t e r o f e n s i v e e n d e d . 50

37

END NOTES
CHAPTER T H R E E

MANSTEIN'S COUNTERATTACK

' E r i c h von Manstein, L o s t P r e s i d i o P r e s s , 19821, 4 2 2 .

Victories,

(Vovato:

Clark, Barbarossa, The Russian-German 2Alan C o n f l i c t , 1 9 4 1 - 4 5 , (New York: William MOCKOW a n d Company, 1 9 6 5 ) r 300.
3 C h a r l e s W. Sydnor, J r . , S o l d i e r s of D e s t r u c t i o n , T h e SS Death-s D i v i s i o n , 1 9 3 3 - 1 9 4 5 , (Princeton: Princeton U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1 9 7 7 ) , 264: Horst S c h e i b e r t , Panzer Grenadier Division G r o s s d e u t s c h l a n d , (Warren: Squadron/Siqnai P u b l i c a t i o n s , 1 9 7 7 ) , 78. 4 S . N. S h t e m e n k o , T h e S o v i e t G e n e r a l S t a f f a t 1 9 4 1 - 1 9 4 5 , ( N o sco w : P r o g r e s s P u b l i s h e r s , 1 9 7 0 1 , 1 C 8 .

s~

'David G l a n t z , From t h e Don t o t h e D n e p r : A Stud o f S o v i e t O f f e n s i v e O p e r a t i o n s December 1 9 4 2 - 'August 1 9 4 3 . . ( C a r l i s l e B a r r a c k s : U n i t e d s t a t e s Army War C o l l e g e , 1984), 169.

Westview p r e s s , 'Glantz,

6 J o h n E r i c k s o n , T h e Road 1 9 8 3 ) , 48.

to

Berlin,

(6ou:der:

From t h e Don t o t h e D n e p r , 1 6 8 .

* S h t e m e n k o , T h e s o v i e t General s t a f f a t w a r , 108 'Frido von S e n g e r , N e i t h e r Fear Nor Hope, ( L o n d o n : Macd o n al d P u b l i s h i n g , 19601, 97-98. T h e Rhodes S c h o l a r Commander o f t h e 1 7 t h Panzer D i v i s i o n g i v e s an o u t s t a n d i n g a c c o u n t o f weapons, t a c t i c s , and s t r a t e g y on t h e eastern f r o n t . "Ibid., 97-98.
T h e Road t o B e r l i n , 50.

llErickson,

1 2 C l a r k , B a r b a r o s s a , 299.

1 3 M a n s t e i n , Lost V i c t o r i e s , 423. 1 4 1 b i d . , 423. I5Ibid., 423-428.

39

I6Friedrich

Schultz,

Reverses

on

the

southern

Wing, ( C a r l i s l e : U n i t e d S t a t e s Army War C o l l e g e , 1 9 8 1 ) , 7 2 .

I7Manstein, Lost Victories, 428.


"Ibid., 429. 431.

bid.,

*'Hermann Plocher, T h e German A i r Force versus R u s s i a , 1 9 4 3 , ( N e w York: Arno P r e s s , 1 9 6 7 1 , 1 6 . He g i v e s a d e t a i l e d account o f German c a p a b i l i t i e s a g a i n s t S o v i e t r a d i o transmissions; Manstein, Lost Victories ( 1 9 8 2 ) : 4 3 1 .
21S.M. S h t e m e n k o , T h e S o v i e t G e n e r a l S t a f f a t ; < a r t 1 0 8 ; E r i c k s o n , T h e Road t O B e r l i n , 5 0 . 2 2 E r i c k s o n , T h e Road t o B e r l i n , 2 3 ~ b i d . , 50. 2 4 ~ b i d . ,50. 251bid., 50. 50.

26S.M. S h t e m e n k o , T h e S o v i e t G e n e r a l S t a f f a t War, 108: E r i c k s o n , The Road t o B e r l i n , 5 1 .

2 7 G l a n t z , From t h e Don t o t h e D n e p r , 1 4 7 .
2 8 E r i c k s o n , T h e Road t o B e r l i n , 5 1 . 291bid., 156. 5 1 : G l a n t z , From t h e 3on to the Dnepr,

3 0 E r i c k s o n , T h e Road t o B e r l i n , 5 0 .
31Glantz,
From t h e Don t o t h e D n e p r , 148-149.

3 2 E r i c k s o n , The Road t o B e r l i n , 5 1 , 5 2 . 331bid., 52.

3 4 ~ b i d . , 52. 3 5 ~ b i d . , 52.

3 6 G l a n t z , From t h e Don t o t h e E r i c k s o n , T h e Road t o B e r l i n , 5 2 .

Dnepr,

148-149;

3 7 E r i c k s o n , The Road t o B e r l i n , 5 3 .

40

381bid., 391bid.,

53.
53.

4 0 G l a n t z , From t h e Don t o t h e D n e p r , 1 6 3 . 411bid.

166.

4 2 E r i c k s o n , T h e Road t o B e r l i n , 5 3 - 5 4 .

43Manstein, L o s t v i c t o r i e s , 4 3 3 .

44Hermann
Russia, 19.

Plocher,

The

German

Air

Force

versus

4 5 H . A . P r o b e r t , T h e Rise a n d Fall o f t h e G e r m a n A i r F o r c e 1933-1945, ( N e w York: S t M a r t i n - s P r e s s , 19831, 2 3 1 .

4 6 E r i c k s o n , T h e Road t o B e r l i n , 54 471bid.,

54.

48Manstein, L o s t v i c t o r i e s , 4 3 6 .
4 9 N . G l a d v o v , " T h e D e f e n s i v e B a t t l e s of t h e 4 8 t h G u a r d s R i f l e D i v i s i o n t o t h e S o u t h w e s t o f K h a r k o v i n March Voyenno-Istor i c h e s k i y 1943", M i l i t a r y History Journal, Z h u r n a l , 5 (May, 1 9 8 3 ) : 31-36.
50Manstein, Lost v i c t o r i e s , t h e Don t o t h e D n e Q K , 231.

436:

GlantZ,

41

CHAPTER FOUR

ANALYSIS, LESSONS L E A R N E D AND CONCLUSIONS

The S o v i e t and G e r m a n o f E e n s i v e s

in

the

winter

of
The

1 9 4 1 - 4 2 o f f e r many l e s s o n s l e a r n e d i n t h e a r t

of

war.

i n i t i a l Soviet

offensive

and

Manstein's

counteroffensive

s u c c e e d e d due t o a d h e r e n c e t o a n c i e n t laws o f ' w a r f a r e .

A n a l y s i s of t h e B a t t l e : The S o v i e t s
From t h e b e g i n n i n g of t h e S o v i e t o f f e n s i v e t h e S o v i e t a r m i e s had s e v e r a l d e f i c i e n c i e s . S t a v k a t h e problems because they f e l t t h e r e m a i n a p u r s u i t . a g a i n s t t h e German South. Stavka f a i l e d t o plan f o r
t h e planned p u r s u i t .

decided

tc

ignore

coming
forces

oft'ersive

rculd
Group than

in

Army
other

contingencies

The S o v i e t o f f e n s i v e c o n s i s t e d of a r m i e s worn down by

t h r e e months o r more of f i g h t i n g i n t h e S t a l i n g r a d campaign.


T h e e x p l o i t a t i o n o f f e n s i v e began i n w i n t e r and a t t e m p t e d

to
when

outrace

and

outlast

the

thaw

and

muddy

season, Soviet the

mechanized and armor movements c e a s e d . ?he system began to fail on day two
I

logistic offensive

of

d e m o n s t r a t i n g l a c k of p r o p e r p l a n n i n g .

T h e O p e r a t i o n a l Maneuver Group Popov

and

6th

Army,

t h e main e f f o r t of S o u t h w e s t F r o n t ,
type o r d e r s t o cover v a s t d i s t a n c e s

had to

excellent reach

mission
final

their

objectives. Unfortunately, the distances t o t h e i r objectives were u n r e a l i s t i c . T h e f i n a l o b j e c t i v e s were the Southwest

42

F r o n t - s s t r a t e g i c o b j e c t i v e s of t h e Dneiper

River

crossing

s i t e a t Zaporozhye. T h e n t h e armies were t o a d v a n c e s o u t h t o


M a r i u p o l on t h e Sea of Azov t o t r a p the southern to wing
o

Army Group S o u t h . From t h e S o v i e t s t a r t l i n e

Zaporozhye

i s 300 miles. From Zaporozhye t o

Mariupol

is

another

130

miles. T h e S o v i e t a r m i e s c o u l d n o t m a i n t a i n
over a campaign

their
the

strength proper could

two

months

long

without which

r e i n f o r c e m e n t s , s u p p l i e s , and r e s e r v e s not provide. Stavka a i l e d t o provide an

Stavka

adequate Voronezh

reserve Front

for

V o r o n e z h and S o u t h w e s t F r o n t s . T h e

reserve The

c o n s i s t e d o f o n l y two tank c o r p s and two t a n k b r i g a d e s . S o u t h w e s t F r o n t r e s e r v e c o n s i s t e d of two tank corps and

c a v a l r y c o r p s t o t a l i n g 1 5 , 0 0 0 men. A d d i t i o n a l l y ,

the

Front

commanders d i d n o t u s e t h e i r r e s e r v e s p r o p e r l y . The r e s e r v e s were committed p i e c e m e a l a n d o f t e n t o r e i n f o r c e a r m i e s w h i c h

were n o t t h e main e f f o r t : . N e i t h e r Mobile Group Popov o r

6th

Army, t h e m a i n e f f o r t of S o u t h w e s t F r o n t , r e c e i v e d t h e F r o n t reserve t o exploit t h e i r success. Soviet 2 reinEorcing success, not f a i l u r e . doctrine stressed

I n t h e Soviet o f f e n s i v e Stavka f a i l e d t o
d o c t r i n e of c o n c e n t r a t i o n and echelonment. of The

follow

its

southwest on
at

F r o n t a r m i e s a t t a c k e d on l i n e i n s t e a d

concentrating as had been

t h e weakest p o i n t of t h e German l i n e s u c h

S t a l i n g r a d . The two F r o n t s had d i f f e r e n t o b j e c t i v e s

leading and

i n two d i f f e r e n t d i r e c t i o n s , Voronezh F r o n t t o t h e west


43

t h e S o u t h w e s t F r o n t t o t h e s o u t h . T h e f o r c e s o f v o r o n e z h and
Southwest F r o n t s d i d n o t ech elo n t h e i r f o r c e s i n t h e or defense. These a c t i o n s a l s o v i o l a t e d the attack
o-F

principles

war of mass and c o n c e n t r a t i o n .


S o v i e t t a c t i c a l a i r power r a r e l y made

an

appearance did not


had

on t h e b a t t e l f i e l d . T h e S o v i e t t a c t i c a l a i r f o r c e s
advance w i t h
the

armor

forces

because

the

Germans

destroyed the a i r f i e l d s a s t h e y retreated. The

short

rar.ge

of t h e S o v i e t a i r c r a f t , c o u p l e d w i t h t h e i n a b i l - t y t o r e p a i r
damaged a i r f i e l d s , meant no combined arms 0peratior.s

with

t a c t i c a l a i r p o w e r . T h i s a l s o meant no i n t e r d i c t i o n o f German armor forces, supplies,

or

interference

with

Luftwaffe

s o r t i e s . O n t h e o t h e r hand, t h e S o v i e t armor l o s t rrany t a n k s to German aircraft during the mobile defense

and

counterattack. 4 German interception of Soviet uncoded radio

communications i n t h e c l e a r doomed Mobile Group Popov. AEter two y e a r s a t war t h e S o v i e t s s t i l l f r e q u e n t l y t r a n s m i t t e d i n the clear. The a b i l i t y intercept of
the

Luftwaffe

and

Army on

radio the These for

units

provided

accurate

information

l o c a t i o n , s t r e n g t h , and s u p p l y of t h e S o v i e t German radio intercept

forces.

units

provided

intelligence

German commanaders down t o d i v i s i o n l e v e l . 5


S t a v k a and t h e Front Commanders imprecise began reactions and to von Even

M a n s t e i n s c o u n t e r a t t a c k proved days a f t e r t h e counteroffensive


44

slow. and

Stavka

Vatutin

r e f u s e d t o a c c e p t t h e i d e a . I t took respond

Stavka

eight Von with

days

to

to

the

German

counteroffensive.

Manstein

a t t a c k e d on 2 0 F e b r u a r y a n d S t a v k a r e a c t e d order to deal
with
the

its

first

German

counteroffensive

on

28

F e b r u a r y . They c l u n g t o t h e i r b e l i e f s t h a t t h e Germans

were

i n r e t r e a t i n s p i t e o f t h e German a t t a c k s a n d t h e r e p o c t s o f
t h e i r army c o m m a n d e r s .

6
right.

T h e S o v i e t b a t t l e p l a n , a l s o , d i d many t h i n g s
The

Soviets

had

great:

success

with

their

OperatLondl
the

Maneuver G r o u p P o p o v. The m o b i l e g r o u p d i d e x p l o i t
made by t h e F r o n t f o r c e : :

gap

as

intended.

The

Soviet Soviet

Fronts armor

a t t a c k e d t h e weakest p a r t o f t h e German l i n e . s o u g h t t o maneuver a n d o u t f l a n k possible

German

positions

wh e n e v e r

.
spite of

In

all

the

tactical

and

operational

shortcomings t h e Soviet b a t t l e plan demonstrated a b r i l l i a n t s t r a t e g i c c o n c e p t from S t a v k a and t h e i r e v a l u a t i o n of r i s k both i n v i c t o r y and d e f e a t . If


the

their

Soviet

offensive
it

s u c c e e d e d i n d e s t r o y i n g Army G r o u p S o u t h by d i v i d i n g

in
of

h a l f and enveloping t h e s o u t h e r n p o r t i o n a g a i n s t t h e Sea


A Z O V , t h e war on

the

eastern

front

would existed

have to

possibiy save
the

e n d e d . No German

strategic

reserve

s i t u a t i o n . A l s o t h e m a j o r i t y o f t h e German p a n z e r

divisions weapon of

were i n Army G r o u p S o u t h , s o t h e major o f f e n s i v e


t h e German Army would h a v e been e l i m i n a t e d .
45

T h e f a i l u r e of t h e S o v i e t o p e r a t i o n s

exploiting
risk

the
the

Stalingrad offensive offered 1itt.le strategic Soviets. I f it failed, the and coming

to
slcw

thaw

would soviet be

all

o p e r a t i o n s on t h e f r o n t

allow

the

araies faulted with

in
for

r e s e r v e a t S t a l i n g r a d t o r e a c t . S t a v k a can
n o t i n c l u d i n g a l l of t h e a r m i e s t h a t
s u r r e n d e r of S t a l i n g r a d i n t h e a t t a c k
t h e s o v i e t a t t a c k on Army Group S o u t h .

were

freed

the
of

or

reinforcement

Any l o s s e s i n S o v i e t armor c r men


recovered i n

cou:d the

quickly vast

be

matter

of

months

frcm

Soviet effort. Soviet

manpower p o o l and t h e S o v i e t and A l l i e d


T h e Germans c o u l d n o t r e p l a c e armor o r

production

men

at

the

r a t e . The war o f a t t r i t i o n f a v o r e d t h e S o v i e t s .
T h i s campaign

provided

experience

for

the

Soviet and

large scale offensives involving several Fronts i n 1944

1945. The S o v i e t s learned t h e i r lessons well.

Analysis of t h e B a t t l e : Mansteins P l a n
Von Mansteins p l a n t o draw t h e S o v i e t armored f o r c e s
west and c o u n t e r a t t a c k b e h i n d them b e a r s much r e s e m b l a n c e t o
t h e c l a s s i c b a t t l e of Cannae. H a n n i b a l

defeated of

the

Roman

l e g i o n s by l e t t i n g them a d v a n c e i n t h e center and t h e n a t t a c k i n g t h e f l a n k s t o e n c i r c l e and

his

line
the

destroy
he

l e g i o n s . Von M a n s t e i n s p l a n d i f f e r e d i n t h a t

developed

i t a s t h e S o v i e t o f f e n s i v e u n f o l d e d and he
all the Soviet forces

could

not

hold their

in

the

trap

to

complete

destruction.
46

Von Manstein-s p l a n b e n e f i t e d from a c t i o n s

he
the
the

could

n o t c o n t r o l . T h e weather
plans. With the thaw not

remained

an in
the

aid

to

German

occuring
over

March frozen

German

counteroffense could

advance

landscape. Manstein

General Z e i t z l e r , O . K . H .
from German High Command counteroffensive plan,

C h i e f of S t a f f , a i d e d von Headquarters. he arranged Agreeing

with

the

for

the

limited

reinforcements t o a r r i v e , rerouted s u p p l i e s , and


H i t l e r s h e a d q u a r t e r s t o h e l p von Manstein
with

worked
the

a:

Eight

for t h e plans approval. I


Von M a n s t e i n s p l a n r e l i e d on t h e b a s i c s of
of the art plan,

warfare.

His
of

plan forces,

relied

upon of

simple

concentration deception,

unity
enemy

command,

surprise, point,

attacking

the

at

the

weakest

a t t a c k i n g t h e f l a n k s , and encirclement.
T h i s b a t t l e is commented

on
In

by
the

Major

General on

von

Mellenthin

in

Panzer

Battles.

chapter

M a n s t e i n , f o u r r e a s o n s a r e l i s t e d f o r t h e s u c c e s s of
P a n z e r Army.

Fourth
did

First,

the

high

level

commanders

not

r e s t r i c t t h e moves of armored f o r m a t i o n s , b u t g a v e them l o n g


range tasks. Second, t h e panzer d i v i s i o n s d i s r e g a r d e d their

f l a n k s s i n c e t h e i n f a n t r y d i v i s i o n s s e c u r e d and a n c h o r e d t h e f l a n k s . T h i r d , a l l commanders commanders c o n d u c t e d o p e r a t i o n s up to from and including front, corps the

the

not
the

r e a r . F o u r t h , t h e a t t a c k was a s u r p r i s e r e g a r d i n g
and p l a c e . 8
41

time

Von Mansteins o f f e n s i v e p l a n of

double

envelopment one
the

assumed a h i g h f a c t o r of r i s k . T h i s t a c t i c hardest t a c t i c a l concepts t o accomplish;

is
but

of

the

results enemy

o f t e n culminate i n t h e complete

destruction assure

of the

the

f o r c e s . Von Mansteins p l a n c o u l d n o t

complete

d e s t r u c t i o n of t h e S o v i e t f o r c e s e n c i r c l e d b e c a u s e t h e y were e n t i r e l y p a n z e r o r mechanized f o r c e s . Without infantry to

a i d i n t h e e n c i r c l e m e n t many g a p s e x i s t e d f o r t h e S o v i e t s t o
abandon t h e i r equipment and f l e e from t h e German t r a p .
In
9

the

this

operation

von

Manstein

fcllcwed

c l a u s e w i t z s and S c h l i e f f e n s i d e a t h a t t h e p r i m a r y b a t t l e was t h e d e s t r u c t i o n of r e t a k i n g of t e r r a i n as Manstein sought to

aim
not

of
the

the

enemy

forces,

Jomini
fulill

states

is

most
mobile

ixportant.

the

German

warfare

d o c t r n e t o d e s t r o y t h e enemy on t h e f i e l d of b a t t l e . The value combined arms operations again proved

their

G e n e r a l von R i c h t o f e n o r q a n i z e d t h e l i m i t e d L u f t w a f f e Russia to provide forces maximum and


close

f o r c e s i n Southern

air of

s u p p o r t t o t h e German

panzer

interdiction

S o v i e t armor and s u p p l y c o l u m n s . By mid

February the

Luftwaffe forces

General

von

Richthofen

reorganized

air

in
of

Southern Russia. H e had 950 p l a n e s which were 5 3 p e r c e n t

t h e f i r s t l i n e a i r c r a f t o t h e e a s t e r n f r o n t . From t h e p e r i o d
20 F e b r u a r y t o 1 5 March h i s L u f t w a f f e f o r c e s m a i n t a i n e d 1 0 0 0

s o r t i e s a d a y , compared t o t h e J a n u a r y a v e r a g e

of

350

per for

d a y . T h e a i r p o w e r combined w i t h t h e freedom of maneuver


48

t h e panzer forces allowed v i c t o r i e s s i m i l i a r

to

the

early

German campaigns i n 1940-1941. 10 Von Mansteins plan succeeded because offensive he took

a d v a n t a g e of t h e s i t u a t i o n t h e S o v i e t s

offered.

H e determined t h e S o v i e t p l a n t o d r i v e through t h e center of


Army Group S o u t h . H e t h e n concentrated h i s forces d o u b l e envelopment p l a n d e f e a t Southwest German f o r c e s . and
which

into
way

the to

remained front

the

best the

Voronezh

with

available

Von M a n s t e i n s p l a n r e m a i n s an o u t s t a n d i n g example O E
modern combined warfare and operational level strategy.

However, H i t l e r i g n o r e d t h e l e s s o n s l e a r n e d from t h e b a t t l e . Never a g a i n a t t h e o p e r a t i o n a l l e v e l of war would he a l l o w a commander t o r e t r e a t o v e r s u c h a l a r g e a r e a to concentrate

f o r a c o u n t e r o f f e n s i v e . German f o r c e s were r e q u i r e d t o s t a n d and d i e i n p l a c e

for

each

inch

of

ground. and

Without

the arms

a b i l i t y t o maneuver t h e m o b i l e

defense

combined

o f f e n s e c a n n o t e x i s t . O t h e r f a c t o r s such German armed forces, combined


with

as
the

the
larger

declining Soviet

manpower p o o l , q u a l i t y and q u a n t i t y of armored v e h i c l e s , a n d excellence of battlefield leadership proved factors the

in

making t h i s t h e l a s t

operational

victory

on

eastern

f r o n t f o r t h e German p a n z e r f o r c e s i n World War 11.

49

E N D NOTES

CHAPTER FOUR

A N A L Y S I S , LESSONS L E A R N E D A N D CONCLUSIONS

'S. M . S h t e m e n k o , T h e S o v i e t G e n e r a l S t a f f a t War 1 9 4 1 - 1 9 4 5 , (Moscow: P r o g r e s s P u b l i s h e r s , 19701, 105. The d i s t a n c e b e t w e e n t h e a r m o r e d columns a n d t h e n e a r e s t r a i l h e a d r e a c h e d 3 0 0 k i l o m e t e r s . T h e r e were o n l y 1 , 3 0 0 l o r r i e s a n d 380 t a n k l o r r i e s a v a i l a b l e . They c o u l d o n l y c a r r y 900 tons o f f u e l . T h e armies n e e d e d 2 , 0 0 0 t o n s . From t h e s t a r t t h e S o v i e t l o g i s t i c a b i l i t y could not supply t h e txo f r c n t s .

'David G l a n t z , From t h e Don t o t h e m e o r : A Study 1942 -A o f S o v i e t O f f e n s i v e O p e r a t i o n s December . 1943 ( C a r l i s l e : U n i t e d S t a t e s Army War c o l l e g e , 19a41, 169-170. 31bid., 169-170.

4Moscow I n s t i t u t e o f Marxism-Leninism, H i s t o r y of t h e Great P a t r i o t i c War o f t h e S o v i e t U n i o n 194:-1945, Vol 111: R a d i c a l T u r n i n g P o i n t i n t h e Course o f t h e G r e a t P a t r i o t i c War ( N o v e m b e r 1 9 4 2 - December ?943, Unedited T r a n s l a t i o n of Chapter 11-V, O f f i c e of t h e Chief of M l i i t a r y H i s t o r y , (Moscow: M i l i t a r y P u b l i s h i n g House o f t h e N i n i s t r y o f D e f e n s e o f t h e USSR, 1 9 6 1 ) , 1 8 : G l a n t z , From t h e 3on t o t h e Dnepr, Von Senger saw l o n g R u s s i a n c o l u m n s b a t t e r e d b y unopposed s t u k a (JU-87) d i v e bombers.

5Hermann P l o c h e r , T h e German A i r F o r c e R u s s i a , 1 9 4 3 , ( N e w Y o r k : Arno P r e s s , 1 9 6 7 ) , 1 8 .


6John Erickson, T h e Road Westview P r e s s , 1 9 8 3 ) , 5 3 .

versus

to

Berlin

(Boulder:

' E b e r h a r d S c h w a r z , Die S t a b i l i s i e r u n g I m S u d e n Der O s t f r o n t Nach Der K a t a s t r o p h e Von S t a l i n g r a d Und D e m R u c k z u q AUS D e m Kaukasus, ( K o l n , U n i v e r s i t y o f K o l n , 1 9 8 1 ) , 7 0 . 'Friedrich Wilhelm von Me1 l e n t h i n , B a t t l e s , ( N e w York: B a l l a n t i n e , 1 9 7 1 1 , 254.
'I

Panzer

DOnentS Basin, February 1943 " , Wehrwissenschaftliche In t h e 40th Panzer Rundschau 7/1, ( J a n u a r y , 1954): 14. the counterstroke c o r p s t h e s e c r e t o f t h e success o f ( M a n s t e i n ' s ) was t h a t i t a l m o s t e n t i r e l y d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t t h e enemy f o r c e s a n d n o t , a s is g e n e r a l l y t h e case i n b o t h a t t a c k and d e f e n s e , concerned with (the taking o f ) ground.

'Carl Wagener, The Counterstroke o f XXXX Panzer c o r p s A g a i n s t t h e B r e a k t h r o u g h by Mobile G r o u p P c p o v i n t h e

50

"Earl Ziemke, Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East, (Washington D.C.: Dorset Press, 1 9 6 8 1 , 9 3 . For the last time in Russia the German panzers were supported with tactical air power as in the campaigns o f 1940 and 1 9 4 1 ; Hermann Plocher, The German Air Force versus Russia, 1 9 4 3 , (New York: Arno Press, 1 9 6 7 1 , 2 2 ; Martin Pegg, Luftwaffe Ground Attack Units 1 9 3 9 - 1 9 4 5 , (London: Osprey Publishing, 1 9 7 7 ) , 2 3 1 .

51

APPENDIX ONE

APPENDIX O N E
ORDER OF BATTLE

T h e S o v i e t o r d e r o f b a t t l e on 1 F e b r u a r y 1 9 4 3 : V o r o n e z h F r o n t - Gen G o l i k o v 4 0 t h Army 9 0 , 0 0 0 men, 1 0 0 t a n k s U n d e r Army c o n t r o l 25th Guards Rile Division 100th R i f l e Division 107th R i f l e Division 183d R i f l e Division 303d R i f l e D i v i s i o n 305th R i f l e Division 309th R i f l e Division 340th R i f l e Division 129th R i f l e Brigade 1 1 6 t h Tank B r i g a d e 1 9 2 d Tank B r i g a d e 5 9 t h T a n k Regiment: 6 0 t h Tank Regiment 6 l s t Tank Regiment 4 t h T a n k Corps 4 5 t h Tank B r i g a d e 6 4 t h Tank B r i g a d e 1 0 2 d Tank B r i g a d e 6 9 t h Army 4 0 , 0 0 0 men, 50 t a n k s U n d e r Army C o n t r o l 161st R i f l e Division 180th R i f l e Division 219th R i f l e Division 270th R i f l e Division 37th R i f l e Brigade 1 3 7 t h Tank Regiment 2 9 2 d T a n k Regiment 3d T a n k Army U n d e r Army C o n t r o l 48th Guards R i f l e Division 6 2 d Guards R i f l e D i v i s i o n 111th Rifle Division 184th R i f l e Division 1 7 9 t h Tank B r i g a d e 2 0 1 s t T a n k Regiment 1 2 t h Tank C o r p s 13th Motorized R i f l e Brigade 3 0 t h Tank B r i g a d e 9 7 t h Tank Brigade 1 0 6 t h Tank B r i g a d e 1 5 t h T a n k Corps 8 8 t h Tank B r i g a d e 53

1 1 3 t h Tank B r i g a d e 1 9 5 t h Tank B r i g a d e Under 3d T a n k Army C o n t r o l 6 t h G u a r d s c a v a l r y Corps Reinforcements 25th Guards R i f l e Division (19 February) 253d R i f l e D i v i s i o n ( 2 3 F e b r u a r y ) 1st C z e c h B a t t a l i o n (1 M a r c h ) 1 9 t h R i f l e D i v i s i o n (1 M a r c h ) 8 6 t h Tank B r i g a d e ( 1 M a r c h ) 1 7 t h R i f l e B r i g a d e (NKVD) ( 1 March) 1st G u a r d s c a v a l r y C o r p s ( 1 M a r c h ) 1st G u a r d s c a v a l r y D i v i s i o n 2d G u a r d s C a v a l t y D i v i s i o n 7th Guards Cavalry D i V i S i O n 113th R i f l e Divisicn (10 Narch) 2d G u a r d s T a n k C o r p s ( 1 7 5 T a n k s ) 3d G u a r d s T a n k C o r p s ( 1 5 0 T a n k s ) 8 6 t h Tank B r i g a d e 1 5 0 t h Tank Brigade TOTALS 2 0 0 , 0 0 0 men, 4 9 0 t a n k s

F r o n t Reserve

54

S o u t h w e s t e r n F r o n t - General V a t u t i n 3 2 0 , 0 0 0 m e n , 362 t a n k s L t General K h a r i t o n o v 4 0 , 0 0 0 men 40 t a n k s 6 t h Army 1 5 t h R i f l e Corps 6th R i f l e Division 106th R i f l e Division 172d R i f l e Division 267th R i f l e Division 350th R i f l e Division 1 1 5 t h Tank B r i g a d e 2 1 2 d Tank Regiment 1st Guards Army L t General KUznetsOv 7 0 , 0 0 0 men 4th Guards R i f l e Corps 35th Guards R i f l e Division 41st G u a r d s R i f l e D i v i s i o n 195th R i f l e Division 6th Guards R i f l e Corps 4 4 t h Guards R i f l e Division 58th Guards R i f l e Division 78th R i f l e D i v i s i c n 244th R i f l e Division Mobile ~ r o u p p o p o v - L t General P o p o v 5 5 , 0 0 0 men 2 1 2 T a n k s 4 t h Guards Tank C o r p s 3 r d Guards M o t o r i z e d R i f l e Brigade 1 2 t h G u a r d s Tank Brigade 1 3 t h G u a r d s Tank B r i g a d e 1 4 t h G u a r d s Tank B r i g a d e 3d Tank C o r p s 1 0 t h Tank c o r p s 1 8 t h Tank C o r p s 38th Guards R i f l e Division 57th Guards R i f l e Division 52d R i f l e D i v i s i o n 9 t h Tank B r i g a d e 1 1 t h Tank B r i g a d e 7th Ski Brigade 5th Ski Brigade (18th February) 10th Ski Brigade (18th February) 3 r d G u a r d s Atmy L t Gen L e l y u s h e n k o 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 men 1 1 0 T a n k s 1 4 t h Guards R i f l e C o r p s 14th Guards R i f l e Division 50th Guards R i f l e Division 61st Guards R i f l e Division 1 8 t h Guards R i f l e C or ps 59th Guards R i f l e Division 6 0 t h Guards R i f l e D i v i s i o n 243d R i f l e D i v i s i o n 279th R i f l e Division 2 6 6 t h R i f l e D i v i s i o n ( 1 6 F e b r u a r y t o 5 t h Tank Army) 2 0 3 d R i f l e D i v i s i o n ( 1 6 F e b r u a r y t o 5 t h Tank A r m y ) 2d G u a r d s Tank C o r p s 2 3 d Tank Corps ( 1 6 F e b r u a r y t o 5 t h Tank A r m y ) 2d Tank Corps

55

1st G u a r d s M e c h a n i z e d Corps 8 t h G u a r d s C a v a l r y Carps 21st Cavalry Division 55th Cavalry Division 112th Cavalry Division : G e n e r a l S h l e m i n 4 0 , 0 0 0 men 5 t h T a n k Army - L 47th Guards X i f l e Division 321st R i f l e Division 333d R i f l e Division 266th R i f l e D i v i s i o n (16 F e b r u a r y ) 203d R i f l e D i v i s i o n ( 1 6 F e b r u a r y ) 23 Tank C o r p s ( 1 6 F e b r u a r y ) F r o n t Reserve 1 5 , 0 0 0 men, 2 6 7 t a n k s ( 1 6 F e b r u a r y ) 1st G u a r d s T a n k C o r p s 25th Tank Corps 1st G u a r d s C a v a l r y C o r p s S o u t h w e s t e r n F r o n t TOTALS: 3 2 0 , 0 0 0 men, 6 2 9 t a n k s

56

T h e German O r d e r o f B a t t l e o n 1 F e b r u a r y 1 9 4 3 . Army Group S o u t h approximately 50,000) Army D e t a c h m e n t L a n z ( S t r e n g t h 2 4 t h P a n z e r Corps 385th I n f a n t r y Division 387th I n f a n t r y Division 213rd S e c u r i t y Division

c o r p s , Cramer
Panzer Grenadier Division "Grossdeutschland" 2 regiments, 1 6 8 t h I n f a n t r y D i v i s i o n 1 regiment, 88th Infantry Division remnants lst, l o t h , 1 3 t h I n f a n t r y , 23rd Light I n f a n t r y , 1st P a n z e r D i v i s i o n U n d e r Army C o n t r o l 298th I n f a n t r y Division 320th I n f a n t r y Division r e g i m e n t , 2d SS P a n z e r D i v i s i o n , " D a s R e i c h " 1st P a n z e r Army ( S t r e n g t h a p p r o x i m a t e l y 4 0 , 0 0 0 ) 3 0 t h Army C o r p s Group KKeiSing ( 3 r d Mountain D i v i s i o n ) 2 regiments, 335th I n f a n t r y Division 3rd P a n z e r C o r p s 7th Panzer Division 1 9 t h P a n z e r DiViSiOn w i t h Lehr-Regiment 901 27th Panzer Division Army D e t a c h m e n t H o l l i d t ( S t r e n g t h 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 ) 2 9 t h Army C o r p s Group 7 9 ( 2 d R u m a n i a n Army C o r p s H e a d q u a r t e r s ) Group S e c u r i t y Regiment 1 7 7 Group Mieth 336th I n f a n t r y Division 384th I n f a n t r y Division 1 7 t h Army C o r p s 62nd I n f a n t r y D i v i s i o n 294th I n f a n t r y Division 306th I n f a n t r y Division 8th Luftwaffe Field Division 4 3 r d P a n z e r Corps 304th I n f a n t r y Division 5 t h panzer D i v i s i o n 22d P a n z e r D i v i s i o n 4 t h P a n z e r Army ( s t r e n g t h 7 0 , 0 0 0 ) 5 t h Army C o r p s 444th S e c u r i t y Division 5 7 t h P a n z e r Corps 5 t h SS P a n z e r G r e n a d i e r D i v i s i o n , " V i k i n g " 17th Panzer Division 23d P a n z e r D i v i s i o n U n d e r Army C o n t r o l 15th Luftwaffe Field Division 111th Infantry Division 16th Panzer Grenadier Division 57

3d Panzer Division 11th Panzer Division Totals: 260,000 men OKH Reinforcements Enroute (Strength 20,000) 2d ss Panzer Corps 1st SS Panzer Division, "Leibstandarte" 2d SS Panzer Division, "DaS Reich"(-) 3rd SS Panzer Division, "Totenkopf" 333rd Infantry Division ( 1 1 February, at Barvenkovo) 6th Panzer Division ( 1 6 t h F e b r u a r y )

58

BI BL IOG R A P H Y

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63

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2.

Cameron S t a t i o n
Alexandria, Virginia 3. 22314

Air U n i v e r s i t y L i b r a r y Maxwell A i r F o r c e Base


Alabama 36112 R o b e r t Baumann Combat S t u d i e s I n s t i t u t e USACGSC F c r t L e a v e n w o r t h , :is 66027-6900 S a m u e l Lewis Combat S t u d i e s I n s t i t u t e USACGSC F o r t L e a v e n w o r t h , KS 6 6 0 2 7 - 6 9 0 0 Fajor Claude Sasso Combat S t u d i e s I n s t i t u t e USACGSC F o r t L e a v e n w o r t h , KS 6 6 0 2 7 - 6 9 0 0

4.

5.

6.

7.

Major F r a n k G a l a h Department o f T a c t i c s USACGSC F o r t L e a v e n w o r t h , RS 6 6 0 2 7 - 6 9 0 0

8.

Major D a v i d S h u n k
28054 Edwards Roseville, Michigan 48066

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