Third Battle of Kharkov
Known to the German side as the Donets Campaign, and in the Soviet Union as the Donbas and Kharkov operations, the German counterstrike led to the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod. As the German Sixth Army was encircled in Stalingrad, the Red Army undertook a series of attacks against the rest of Army Group South. The Soviet victories caused participating Soviet units to over-extend themselves, months of continuous operations, had taken a heavy toll on the Soviet forces and some divisions were reduced to 1, 000–2,000 combat effective soldiers. On 19 February, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein launched his Kharkov counterstrike, using the fresh II SS Panzer Corps, the Wehrmacht flanked and defeated the Red Armys armored spearheads south of Kharkov. This enabled Manstein to renew his offensive against the city of Kharkov proper on 7 March, despite orders to encircle Kharkov from the north the SS Panzer Corps instead decided to directly engage Kharkov on 11 March. This led to four days of fighting before Kharkov was recaptured by the 1st SS Panzer Division on 15 March.
The German forces recaptured Belgorod two days later, creating the salient which in July 1943 would lead to the Battle of Kursk, the German offensive cost the Red Army an estimated 90,000 casualties. The house-to-house fighting in Kharkov was particularly bloody for the German SS Panzer Corps, at the start of 1943, the German Wehrmacht faced a crisis as Soviet forces encircled and reduced the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad and expanded their Winter Campaign towards the Don River. On 2 February 1943 the Sixth Armys commanding officers surrendered, total German losses at the Battle of Stalingrad, excluding prisoners, were between 120,000 and 150,000. Throughout 1942 German casualties totaled around 1.9 million personnel, on 2 February, the Red Army launched Operation Star, threatening to recapture the cities of Belgorod and Kursk. A Soviet drive, spearheaded by four tank corps organized under Lieutenant-General Markian Popov, pierced the German front by crossing the Donets River, despite Hitlers orders to hold the city, Kharkov was abandoned by German forces and the city was recaptured by the Red Army on 16 February.
Hitler immediately flew to Mansteins headquarters at Zaporizhia, on 19 February Soviet armored units broke through the German lines and approached the city. In view of the situation, Hitler gave Manstein operational freedom. When Hitler departed, the Soviet forces were only some 30 kilometers away from the airfield, by this time Stavka believed it could decide the war in the southwest Russian SFSR and eastern Ukrainian SSR, expecting total victory. The surrender of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad freed six Soviet armies, under the command of Konstantin Rokossovsky, which were refitted and reinforced by the 2nd Tank Army and these forces were repositioned between the junction of German Army Groups Center and South. Originally planned to begin between 12–15 February, deployment problems forced Stavka to push the date back to 25 February. Meanwhile, the Soviet 60th Army pushed the German Second Armys 4th Panzer Division away from Kursk and this opened a 60 kilometers breach between these two German forces, shortly to be exploited by Rokossovskys offensive.
However, unexpected German resistance began to slow the operation considerably, offering Rokossovsky only limited gains on the flank of his attack
Battle of Kalach
The Battle of Kalach took place between the German Sixth Army and elements of the Soviet Stalingrad Front between July 25 and August 11,1942. The Soviets deployed the 62nd and 64th Armies in a Don River bridgehead west of Kalach with the intent of impeding the German advance on Stalingrad, in the initial period of the battle, the Germans attacked and managed to surround part of the 62nd Army. In reaction, the Soviets counter-attacked and temporarily forced the Germans onto the defense, following resupply of German forces, the roles again reversed and the Germans attacked into the flanks of the Soviet bridgehead, successfully collapsing it. The German victory positioned the Sixth Army to cross the Don River and advance on Stalingrad, following the occupation of the Crimea and the Battle of Kharkov, the Germans launched their 1942 summer offensive with the objectives of occupying the Don Basin and the Caucasus. Advancing as part of Army Group B, the German Sixth Army pushed toward the town of Kalach on the Don River as a step toward the capture of Stalingrad.
As defenders, the Soviets were reacting to German initiatives, to meet this goal, while the Soviets were generally withdrawing before the German offensive, they retained a bridgehead across the Don at Kalach with lines behind the Tsimla and Chir Rivers. The battlefield was the country west and northwest of Kalach. The terrain of the battlefield is mostly open with occasional treelines that obscure lines of sight, the land rolls slightly and exhibits small rises with an average elevation of 100 to 200 meters above sea level. Cross country vehicular movement is constricted by balkas, steep banks that have been strongly cut by erosion. Between the treelines and balkas, the countryside is agricultural with occasional villages, the relatively open nature of the terrain favors long-range direct fire weapons such as the long 75-mm cannon that were mounted on German Panzer IV tanks. A lack of commanding terrain and structures made observation for artillery fire challenging, in the event, the German forces enjoyed air superiority over the Kalach battlefield with the commitment of the entire VIII Air Corps under the command of General Fiebig.
German Sixth Army had ranged from north to south the VIII, XIV Panzer, LI, and XXIV Panzer Corps, commanding some 270,000 men, over 500 tanks, the German forces had superior battle experience and excellent gunnery skills. Their movement and attacks enjoyed air support, but the Sixth Army had temporarily outrun its supplies, particularly in the cases of fuel, Soviet opposition in the Don bend was still weak, but it was increasing. 62nd Army had 6 rifle divisions, a brigade, and 6 independent tank battalions on its half of the line, and 64th Army had 2 rifle divisions. To the north of the 62nd Army was the 63rd Army, rifle divisions of the Stalingrad Front were in a perilous state, with over half of them understrength, ranging in strength between 300 and 4,000 men. The tank armies would be committed before their organization was complete and without the cohesion enjoyed by more experienced, the Soviet forces in the Kalach Bridgehead were subordinated to the Stalingrad Front under the command of General-Lieutenant Vasiliy N.
Gordov. After a ten-day hiatus caused by a lack of transportation, German Sixth Army returned to the offensive, on 23 July, Paulus submitted his plan to take Stalingrad. He proposed to sweep to the Don on both sides of Kalach, take bridgeheads on the run, and drive a wedge of armor flanked by infantry across the thirty miles
Case Blue, renamed Operation Braunschweig, was the German Armed Forces name for its plan for the 1942 strategic summer offensive in southern Russia between 28 June and 24 November 1942. Initially, the offensive saw gains, with an advance into the Caucasus capturing large areas of land, the Red Army defeated the Germans at Stalingrad, following Operations Uranus and Little Saturn. This defeat forced the Axis to retreat from the Caucasus, only the city of Kursk and the Kuban region remained tentatively occupied by Axis troops. On 22 June 1941 the Wehrmacht had launched Operation Barbarossa with the intention of defeating the Soviets in a Blitzkrieg lasting only months, the Axis offensive had met with initial success and the Red Army had suffered some major defeats before halting the Axis units at Moscow. Although the Germans had captured vast areas of land and important industrial centers, in the winter of 1941–42 the Soviets struck back in a series of successful counteroffensives, pushing back the German threat to Moscow.
Despite these setbacks, Hitler wanted a solution, for which he required the oil resources of the Caucasus. By February 1942 the German Army High Command had begun to develop plans for a campaign to the aborted Barbarossa offensive – with the Caucasus as its principal objective. On 5 April 1942, Hitler laid out the elements of the now known as Case Blue in Führer Directive No.41. The main focus was to be at the capture of Caucasus region, the Caucasus, a large, culturally diverse region traversed by its eponymous mountains, is bounded by the Black Sea to the west and the Caspian Sea to the east. South of the lay the densely populated region of Transcaucasia, comprising Georgia, Azerbaijan. This heavily industrialized and densely populated area contained some of the largest oilfields in the world, the capital of Azerbaijan, was one of the richest, producing 80 percent of the Soviet Unions oil—about 24 million tons in 1942 alone. The Caucasus possessed plentiful coal and peat, as well as nonferrous, manganese deposits at Chiaturi, in Transcaucasia, formed the richest single source in the world, yielding 1.5 million tons of manganese ore annually, half of the Soviet Unions total production.
The Kuban region of the Caucasus produced large amounts of wheat, sunflower seeds and these resources were of immense importance to Hitler and the German war effort. Of the three tons of oil Germany consumed per year,85 percent was imported, mainly from the United States, Venezuela. An indication of German reliance on Romania is evident from its oil consumption, in 1938, in late 1941, the Romanians warned Hitler that their stocks were exhausted and they were unable to meet German demands. Whereas in 1941 most units fought on the central front supporting Army Group Centre,1,610 aircraft, initially commanded by Löhr, on 20 July 1942, Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen took command of Luftflotte 4. Blau II, Sixth Army, commanded by Friedrich Paulus, would attack from Kharkiv and move in parallel with Fourth Panzer Army, to reach the Volga at Stalingrad. Blau III, First Panzer Army would strike south towards the lower Don River, with Seventeenth Army on the western flank, the strategic objectives of the operation were the oilfields at Maykop and Baku
The Workers and Peasants Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and after 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution, the Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. The Red Army is credited as being the land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II. During operations on the Eastern Front, it fought 75%–80% of the German land forces deployed in the war, inflicting the vast majority of all German losses and ultimately capturing the German capital. In September 1917, Vladimir Lenin wrote, There is only one way to prevent the restoration of the police, at the time, the Imperial Russian Army had started to collapse. The Tsarist general Nikolay Dukhonin estimated that there had been 2 million deserters,1.8 million dead,5 million wounded and 2 million prisoners and he estimated the remaining troops as numbering 10 million.
Therefore, the Council of Peoples Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918 and they envisioned a body formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes. All citizens of the Russian republic aged 18 or older were eligible, in the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members would be necessary. Because the Red Army was composed mainly of peasants, the families of those who served were guaranteed rations, some peasants who remained at home yearned to join the Army, along with some women, flooded the recruitment centres. If they were turned away they would collect scrap metal and prepare care-packages, in some cases the money they earned would go towards tanks for the Army. Nikolai Krylenko was the supreme commander-in-chief, with Aleksandr Myasnikyan as deputy, Nikolai Podvoisky became the commissar for war, Pavel Dybenko, commissar for the fleet. Proshyan, Steinberg were specified as peoples commissars as well as Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich from the Bureau of Commissars, at a joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, held on 22 February 1918, Krylenko remarked, We have no army.
The Red Guard units are brushed aside like flies and we have no power to stay the enemy, only an immediate signing of the peace treaty will save us from destruction. This provoked the insurrection of General Alexey Maximovich Kaledins Volunteer Army in the River Don region, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk aggravated Russian internal politics. The situation encouraged direct Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, a series of engagements resulted, amongst others, the Czechoslovak Legion, the Polish 5th Rifle Division, and the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian Riflemen. The Whites defeated the Red Army on each front, Leon Trotsky reformed and counterattacked, the Red Army repelled Admiral Kolchaks army in June, and the armies of General Denikin and General Yudenich in October. By mid-November the White armies were all almost completely exhausted, in January 1920, Budennys First Cavalry Army entered Rostov-on-Don. 1919 to 1923 At the wars start, the Red Army consisted of 299 infantry regiments, Civil war intensified after Lenin dissolved the Russian Constituent Assembly and the Soviet government signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, removing Russia from the Great War
Operation Little Saturn
The success of Operation Uranus, launched on 19 November 1942, had trapped 250,000 -300,000 troops of General Friedrich Paulus German 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army in Stalingrad. To exploit this victory, the Soviet general staff planned a campaign of continuous and highly ambitious offensive operations. Later Joseph Stalin reduced his ambitious plans to a small campaign codenamed Operation Little Saturn. Despite these victories, the Soviets themselves became over extended, setting up the stages for the German offensives of the Third Battle of Kharkov, by 6 July, General Hermann Hoths Fourth Panzer Army had taken the city of Voronezh, threatening to collapse the Red Armys resistance. The rapid German advance threatened to cut the Soviet Union off from its southern territories, the operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, and was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. Planning for Operation Uranus had commenced as early as September 1942 and these Axis armies were deployed in open positions on the steppe and lacked heavy equipment to deal with Soviet armor.
Operation Winter Storm, undertaken between 12–23 December 1942, was the German Fourth Panzer Armys attempt to relieve encircled Axis forces during the Battle of Stalingrad. In late November, the Red Army completed Operation Uranus, which resulted in the encirclement of Axis personnel in, German forces within the Stalingrad Pocket and directly outside were reorganized under Army Group Don, under the command of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein. They would be supported by the 6th Army of the Voronezh Front, while General Rodion Malinovskys Soviet 2nd Guards Army blocked the German advance on Stalingrad, the modified plan Operation Little Saturn was launched on 16 December. This operation consisted of a movement which threatened to cut off the relieving forces. The Italians resisted the Soviet attack for two weeks, although outnumbered 9 to 1 in some sectors, but with huge losses. Manstein sent the 6th Panzer Division to the Italians aid, of the 130,000 encircled troops, to the south the advance of General Gerasimenkos 28th Army threatened to encircle the 1st Panzer Army and General Trufanovs 51st Army attacked the relief column directly.
In a daring raid, by 24 December tanks of the 24th Tank Corps had reached Tatskinskaya, the Soviet tanks drove through snowstorms onto the airfield and roamed about for hours, destroying the German transport planes at their leisure. With the relief column under threat of encirclement, Manstein had no choice but to back to Kotelnikovo on 29 December. Of the 200,000 -250,000 soldiers encircled 90,000 survived to be taken prisoner, only 5,000 lived to return to Germany. The Soviets attacked and pushed back the remaining units of the German 24th Army Corps on the Alpini left flank and contemporarily attacked the Alpini themselves. The Alpini held the front, but within three days the Soviets advanced 200 kilometers to the left and right of the Alpini, who were encircled and forced to try to escape a siege. Although the Alpini corps was ordered to hold the front at all costs, on the evening of January 17, the commanding officer of the corps General Gabriele Nasci finally ordered the full retreat, which was fully carried out on January 19
Kharkiv or Kharkov is the second-largest city in Ukraine. In the northeast of the country, it is the largest city of the Slobozhanshchyna historical region, the city has a population of about 1.5 million people. Kharkiv is the centre of Kharkiv Oblast and of the surrounding Kharkiv district. The city was founded in 1654 and after a humble beginning as a small fortress grew to be a centre of Ukrainian industry, trade. Kharkiv was the first capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, from December 1919 to January 1934 and its industry specializes primarily in machinery and in electronics. There are hundreds of companies in the city, including the Morozov Design Bureau and the Malyshev Tank Factory, the Turboatom. Some sources indicate that the city may have named after the Hunnic name for swan. Other sources offer that the city was named after its near-legendary founder, archeological evidence discovered in the area of present-day Kharkiv indicates that a population has existed in that area since the second millennium BC.
Cultural artifacts date back to the Bronze Age, as well as those of Scythian and Sarmatian settlers, there is evidence that the Chernyakhov culture flourished in the area from the second to the sixth centuries. The city was founded by re-settlers who were running away from the war that engulfed Right-bank Ukraine in 1654, the years before the region was a sparsely populated part of the Cossack Hetmanate. The group of people came onto the banks of Lopan and Kharkiv rivers where a settlement stood. According to archive documents, the leader of the re-settlers was otaman Ivan Kryvoshlyk, at first the settlement was self-governed under the jurisdiction of a voivode from Chuhuiv that is 40 kilometres to the east. The first appointed voivode from Moscow was Voyin Selifontov in 1656 who started to build a local ostrog, at that time the population of Kharkiv was just over 1000, half of whom were local cossacks, while Selifontov brought along a Moscow garrison of another 70 servicemen. The first Kharkiv voivode was replaced in two years after constantly complaining that locals refused to cooperate in building the fort, Kharkiv became the centre of the local Sloboda cossack regiment as the area surrounding the Belgorod fortress was being heavily militarized.
By 1657 the Kharkiv settlement had a fortress with underground passageways, in 1658 Ivan Ofrosimov was appointed as the new voivode, who worked on forcing locals to kiss the cross to show loyalty to the Moscow tsar. The locals led by their otaman Ivan Kryvoshlyk refused, with the election of the new otaman Tymish Lavrynov the community sent a request to the tsar to establish a local Assumption market, signed by deans of Kharkiv churches. Relationships with the neighboring Chuhuiv sometimes were non-friendly and often their arguments were pacified by force, with the appointment of the third voivode Vasiliy Sukhotin was completely finished the construction of the city fort. Meanwhile, Kharkiv had become the centre of Sloboda Ukraine, the Kharkiv Fortress was erected around the Assumption Cathedral and its castle was at University Hill
Eastern Front (World War II)
The battles on the Eastern Front constituted the largest military confrontation in history. They were characterized by unprecedented ferocity, wholesale destruction, mass deportations, and immense loss of life due to combat, exposure and massacres. The Eastern Front, as the site of nearly all extermination camps, death marches, ghettos, of the estimated 70 million deaths attributed to World War II, over 30 million, many of them civilian, occurred on the Eastern Front. The Eastern Front was decisive in determining the outcome of the European portion of World War II and it resulted in the destruction of the Third Reich, the partition of Germany for nearly half a century and the rise of the Soviet Union as a military and industrial superpower. The two principal belligerent powers were Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, along with their respective allies. Though never engaged in action in the Eastern Front, the United Kingdom. The joint German–Finnish operations across the northernmost Finnish–Soviet border and in the Murmansk region are considered part of the Eastern Front, in addition, the Soviet–Finnish Continuation War may be considered the northern flank of the Eastern Front.
Despite their ideological antipathy, both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union shared a dislike for the outcome of World War I. The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact signed in August 1939 was an agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. It contained a secret protocol aiming to return Central Europe to the pre–World War I status quo by dividing it between Germany and the Soviet Union, Estonia and Lithuania would return to Soviet control, while Poland and Romania would be divided. I need the Ukraine so that they cant starve us out, the two powers invaded and partitioned Poland in 1939. The annexations were never recognized by most Western states, the annexed Romanian territory was divided between the Ukrainian and Moldavian Soviet republics. Adolf Hitler had argued in his autobiography Mein Kampf for the necessity of Lebensraum, acquiring new territory for Germans in Eastern Europe, Wehrmacht officers told their troops to target people who were described as Jewish Bolshevik subhumans, the Mongol hordes, the Asiatic flood and the red beast.
The vast majority of German soldiers viewed the war in Nazi terms, Hitler referred to the war in unique terms, calling it a war of annihilation which was both an ideological and racial war. In addition, the Nazis sought to wipe out the large Jewish population of Central, after Germanys initial success at the Battle of Kiev in 1941, Hitler saw the Soviet Union as militarily weak and ripe for immediate conquest. On 3 October 1941, he announced, We have only to kick in the door, Germany expected another short Blitzkrieg and made no serious preparations for prolonged warfare. Throughout the 1930s the Soviet Union underwent massive industrialization and economic growth under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, Stalins central tenet, Socialism in one country, manifested itself as a series of nationwide centralized Five-Year Plans from 1929 onwards. It served as a testing ground for both the Wehrmacht and the Red Army to experiment with equipment and tactics that they would employ on a wider scale in the Second World War
Battle of the Caucasus
The Battle of the Caucasus is a name given to a series of Axis and Soviet operations in the Caucasus area on the Eastern Front of World War II. The operation was authorised by Hitler on 23 July 1942, the main forces included Army Group A commanded by Wilhelm List, 1st Panzer Army, 4th Panzer Army, 17th Army, part of the Luftflotte 4 and the 3rd Romanian Army. Army Group A was supported to the east by Army Group B commanded by Fedor von Bock, the land forces, accompanied by 15,000 oil industry workers, included 167,000 troopers,4,540 guns and 1,130 tanks. Several oil firms such as German Oil on Caucasus, Ost-Öl and Karpaten-Öl had been established in Germany and they were awarded an exclusive 99-year lease to exploit the Caucasian oil fields. For this purpose, a number of pipes—which proved useful to Soviet oil industry workers—were delivered. A special economic inspection A, headed by Lieutenant-General Nidenfuhr was created, bombing of the oil fields was forbidden. To defend them from destruction by Soviet units under the command of Nikolai Baibakov and Semyon Budyonny, an SS guard regiment, the head of the Abwehr developed Operation Schamil, which called for landing in the Grozny and Maikop regions.
They would be supported by the fifth column. After neutralizing the Soviet counter-attack in the Izyum-Barvenkovsk direction the German Army Group A rapidly attacked towards the Caucasus, when Rostov-on-Don, nicknamed The Gates of Caucasus, fell on 23 July 1942 the tank units of Ewald von Kleist moved across the Caucasian Mountain Range. The units of the 4th German Mountain Division, manned with Tyroleans, were active in this thrust and they succeeded in advancing 30 km toward Sukhumi. To attack from the Kuban region, capture the passes that led to Elbrus, and cover the Edelweiss flank, from the Old Karachay through the Khurzuk aul and the Ullu-kam Gorge the detachment reached the Khotyu-tau Pass, which had not been defended by the Soviet troops. Khotyu-tau gained a new name — The Pass of General Konrad, the starting point of the operation on the Krasnodar-Pyatigorsk-Maikop line was reached on 10 August 1942. On 16 August the battalion commanded by von Hirschfeld made a feint, on 21 August troops from the 1st Mountain Division planted the flag of Nazi Germany on the summit of Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in the Caucasus and Europe.
But the region was affected by warfare elsewhere in the Soviet Union, the Caucasus area became a new area of industry when 226 factories were evacuated there during the industrial evacuations undertaken by the Soviet Union in 1941. In 1942, the German Army launched Operation Edelweiss which was aimed at advancing to the oil field of Azerbaijan, the German offensive slowed as it entered the mountains in the southern Caucasus and did not reach all of its 1942 objectives. After the Soviet breakthroughs in the region around Stalingrad, the German forces in the Caucasus were put on the defensive and they established a defensive line in the Taman Peninsula from which they hoped to eventually launch new operations in the Caucasus. The fighting remained reasonably static until September 1943 when the Germans ordered fresh withdrawals which effectively ended the period of fighting in the Caucasus, Soviet Operations in 1943 consisted of the following. 648-651 Ivan Tyulenev, Cherez Tri Voyny, Moscow,1960, P.176.
Battle of Caucasus, Case for Georgian Alpinists, Translated by Michael P. Willis,2017, World War 2 Battles, The Battle of The Caucasus Ясен Дьяченко
Erich von Manstein
Fritz Erich Georg Eduard von Lewinski, known as Erich von Manstein, was a German commander of the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germanys armed forces during the Second World War. He attained the rank of field marshal and he rose to the rank of captain by the end of the war and was active in the inter-war period helping Germany rebuild her armed forces. In September 1939, during the invasion of Poland at the beginning of the Second World War, adolf Hitler chose Mansteins strategy for the invasion of France of May 1940, a plan refined by Franz Halder and other members of the OKH. Attaining the rank of general at the end of the campaign, he was active in the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 and the Siege of Sevastopol and he participated in the Siege of Leningrad. Germanys fortunes in the war began to take a turn in 1942, especially in the catastrophic Battle of Stalingrad. He was one of the commanders at the Battle of Kursk. His ongoing disagreements with Hitler over the conduct of the war led to his dismissal in March 1944 and he never obtained another command and was taken prisoner by the British in August 1945, several months after Germanys defeat.
His sentence of eighteen years in prison was reduced to twelve. As a military advisor to the West German government in the mid-1950s, Manstein died in Munich in 1973. Manstein was born Fritz Erich Georg Eduard von Lewinski in Berlin, the son of a Prussian aristocrat and artillery general, Eduard von Lewinski. His fathers family had Kashubian ancestry and was entitled to use the Brochwicz coat of arms, Hedwig von Sperling, Helenes younger sister, was married to Lieutenant General Georg von Manstein, the couple was unable to have children, so they adopted Erich. They had previously adopted Erichs cousin Martha, the daughter of Helenes, Mansteins biological and adoptive fathers were both Prussian generals, as were his mothers brother and both his grandfathers. Sixteen relatives on each side of his family were military officers, Paul von Hindenburg, the future Generalfeldmarschall and President of Germany, was his uncle, Hindenburgs wife, was the sister of Hedwig and Helene. Manstein attended the Imperial Lyzeum, a Catholic Gymnasium in Strasbourg, in March 1906, after six years in the cadet corps in Plön and Groß-Lichterfelde, he was commissioned into the Third Foot Guards Regiment as an ensign.
He was promoted to lieutenant in January 1907 and in October 1913 began the three-year officer training programme at the Prussian War Academy. However, Manstein only completed the first year of the programme and he never completed the remainder of his general staff officer training. During the First World War, Manstein served on both the German Western and Eastern Fronts, at the beginning of the war he was promoted to lieutenant and participated in the invasion of Belgium with the 2nd Guard Reserve Infantry Regiment. In August 1914 he took part in the capture of Namur, in September, Mansteins unit was one of two transferred to East Prussia and attached to the Eighth Army, commanded by Hindenburg
Battle of Stalingrad
Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians by air raids, it is often regarded as one of the single largest and bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. German forces never regained the initiative in the East and withdrew a vast military force from the West to replace their losses, the German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the German 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble, the fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting, and both sides poured reinforcements into the city. By mid-November 1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River. On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, the Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the stay in Stalingrad and make no attempt to break out, attempts were made to supply the army by air.
Heavy fighting continued for two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition, the remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted five months, one week, and three days, the war had been progressing well, the U-boat offensive in the Atlantic had been very successful and Rommel had just captured Tobruk. In the east, they had stabilized their front in a running from Leningrad in the north to Rostov in the south. There were a number of salients, but these were not particularly threatening, neither Army Group North nor Army Group South had been particularly hard pressed over the winter. Stalin was expecting the main thrust of the German summer attacks to be directed against Moscow again, with the initial operations being very successful, the Germans decided that their summer campaign in 1942 would be directed at the southern parts of the Soviet Union. The initial objectives in the region around Stalingrad were the destruction of the capacity of the city.
The river was a key route from the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to central Russia and its capture would disrupt commercial river traffic. The Germans cut the pipeline from the oilfields when they captured Rostov on 23 July, the capture of Stalingrad would make the delivery of Lend Lease supplies via the Persian Corridor much more difficult. On 23 July 1942, Hitler personally rewrote the operational objectives for the 1942 campaign, both sides began to attach propaganda value to the city based on it bearing the name of the leader of the Soviet Union. The expansion of objectives was a significant factor in Germanys failure at Stalingrad, caused by German overconfidence, the Soviets realized that they were under tremendous constraints of time and resources and ordered that anyone strong enough to hold a rifle be sent to fight. If I do not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny I must finish this war, Army Group South was selected for a sprint forward through the southern Russian steppes into the Caucasus to capture the vital Soviet oil fields there
Battle of Voronezh (1942)
The German attack had two objectives. One was to seed confusion about the goals of the overall campaign. There was widespread feeling by almost all observers, especially Soviet high command, by strongly attacking toward Voronezh, near the site of the Germans deepest penetration the year before, it would hide the nature of the real action taking place far to the south. Soviet forces sent to the area to shore up the defenses would not be able to move with the speed as the Germans. The other purpose was to provide an easily defended front line along the river, the plan involved forces of Army Group South, at this time far north of their ultimate area of responsibility. The attack would be spearheaded by the 4th Panzer Army under the command of General Hermann Hoth, Hoths highly mobile forces would move rapidly eastward to Voronezh and turn southeast to follow the Don to Stalingrad. As the 4th moved out of the city, the infantry forces of the Second Army following behind them would take up defensive positions along the river.
The plan called for the 2nd to arrive just as the 4th had cleared the city, the city was defended by the troops of the 40th Army as part of the Valuiki-Rossosh Defensive Operation of General of Army Nikolai Fyodorovich Vatutins Southwestern Front. For reasons that are unclear, the bridge over the Devitsa was not destroyed, Soviet forces mounted a successful counterattack that tied up Hoths forces. At this point they should have been relieved by the infantry forces, intense house-to-house fighting broke out, and Hoth continued to push forward while he waited. At one point the 3rd Motorized Division broke across the Don, the 2nd did not arrive for another two days, by which time the 4th was heavily engaged and took some time to remove from the line. The 2nd continued the battle until 24 July, when the final Soviet forces west of the Don were defeated, the Soviet forces recaptured the city in the Battle of Voronezh of 1943. Sources Glantz, David M. & House, When Titans Clashed, How the Red Army Stopped Hitler, Kansas, University Press of Kansas, ISBN 0-7006-0899-0