Monday, October 22, 2012

Manstein's first attack on Sevastopol

Manstein's first attack on Sevastopol in November failed, and with insufficient forces left for an immediate assault, he ordered an investment of the heavily fortified city. By 17 December he launched another offensive, which also failed. Sony VAIO VPCF24M1E battery

On 26 December the Soviets landed on the Kerch Straits to retake Kerch and its peninsula, and on 30 December executed another landing near Feodosiya. Only a hurried withdrawal from the area, in contravention of Manstein's orders, by the46th Infantry Division under General Hans Graf von Sponeck prevented a collapse of the eastern part of the Crimea; Sony VAIO VGN-SR11M Battery

the division lost most of its heavy equipment. Manstein cancelled a planned resumption of the attack and sent most of his forces east to destroy the Soviet bridgehead. The Soviets were in a superior position regarding men and materiel as they were able to re-supply by sea, and were therefore pushed by Stalin to conduct further offensives. Sony VAIO VGN-SR11MR Battery

However, the Russians were unable to capture the critical rail and road access points which would have cut the German lines of supply.

For the Battle of the Kerch Peninsula, launched on 8 May 1942, Hitler finally assigned Manstein major air support. Sony VAIO VGN-SR140D Battery

The 11th Army was outnumbered on the ground, so Manstein had them feint an attack in the north while the bulk of the force attacked to the south. The Soviets were soon fleeing. Manstein recorded in his memoirs the capture of "170,000 prisoners, 1,133 guns, and 258 tanks".[65] Kerch was captured on 16 May. The Germans lost only 8,000 men. Sony VAIO VGN-SR140D/B Battery

After a month's delay, Manstein turned his attention once more to the capture of Sevastopol, a battle in which Germany used some of the largest guns ever built. Along with large numbers of regular artillery pieces, super-heavy 600 mm (24 in) Karl-Gerät mortars and the 800 mm (31 in) "Dora" railway gun were brought in for the assault. Sony VAIO VGN-SR140D/P Battery

A furious barrage began on the morning of 2 June 1942. All of the resources of the Luftwaffe's Luftflotte 4, commanded by Wolfram von Richthofen, were committed; the barrage continued for five days before the ground assault began.

The 11th Army gained ground during mid-June, focusing their attention on the northern approaches to the city. Sony VAIO VGN-SR140D/S Battery

Casualties were high on both sides as the month dragged on. Aware of the need to act before the German summer offensive of 1942 reduced the availability of reinforcements and supplies, Manstein ordered a surprise attack using amphibious landings across Severnaya Bay on 29 June. The operation was a success; Soviet resistance crumbled. Sony VAIO VGN-SR140E Battery

On 1 July German forces entered the city while the Soviets conducted a disorganised evacuation, and Hitler promoted Manstein to Generalfeldmarschall the same day. The entire city was in German hands by 4 July.

During the Crimean campaign, Manstein was indirectly involved in atrocities against the Soviet population, Sony VAIO VGN-SR140E/B Battery

especially those committed by Einsatzgruppe D, one of several Schutzstaffel (SS) groups that had been tasked with the elimination of the Jews of Europe. Einsatzgruppe D travelled in the wake of Manstein's 11th Army, and were provided by Manstein's command with vehicles, fuel, and drivers. Military police cordoned off areas where the Einsatzgruppe planned to shoot Jews to prevent anyone from escaping. Sony VAIO VGN-SR140E/P Battery

Captain Ulrich Gunzert, shocked to have witnessed Einsatzgruppe D massacre a group of Jewish women and children, went to Manstein to ask him to do something to stop the killings. Gunzert states that Manstein told him to forget what he had seen and to focus on fighting the Red Army. Gunzert later called Manstein's inaction "a flight from responsibility, a moral failure".[Sony VAIO VGN-SR140E/S Battery

Eleven of the seventeen charges against Manstein at his later war crimes trial were related to Nazi maltreatment and killing of Jews and prisoners of war in the Crimea.

After the capture of Sevastopol, the Hitler felt Manstein was the right man to command the forces at Leningrad, which had been under siege since September 1941. Sony VAIO VGN-SR140N/S Battery

With elements of the 11th Army, Manstein was transferred to the Leningrad front, arriving on 27 August 1942. Manstein again lacked the proper forces to storm the city, so he planned Operation Nordlicht, a bold plan for a thrust to cut off Leningrad's supply line at Lake Ladoga.[76]

However, on the day of his arrival, the Soviets launched the Sinyavin Offensive. Sony VAIO VGN-SR165E/B Battery

Originally planned as spoiling attack against Georg Lindemann's 18th Army in the narrow German salient west of Lake Ladoga, the offensive appeared able to break through the German lines, lifting the siege. Hitler, bypassing the usual chain of command, telephoned Manstein directly and ordered him to take offensive action in the area. Sony VAIO VGN-SR165E/P Battery

After a series of heavy battles, he launched a counterattack on 21 September that cut off the two Soviet armies in the salient. Fighting continued throughout October. Although the Soviet offensive was fended off, the resulting attrition meant that the Germans could no longer execute a decisive assault on Leningrad, and Nordlicht was put on hold. Sony VAIO VGN-SR165E/S Battery

The siege was finally lifted by the Soviets in January 1944.

In an attempt to resolve their persistent shortage of oil, the Germans had launched Case Blue, a massive offensive aimed against the Caucasian oilfields, in the summer of 1942.[80] After German air attacks, the 6th Army, led by Friedrich Paulus, was tasked with capturing Stalingrad, a key city on the Volga River. Sony VAIO VGN-SR190EBJ Battery

His troops, supported by 4th Panzer Army, entered the city on 12 September.

Hand-to-hand combat and street fighting ensued.[81] The Soviets launched a huge counteroffensive on 19 November, codenamed Operation Uranus, which was designed to encircle the German armies and trap them in the city; this goal was accomplished on 23 November. Sony VAIO VGN-SR190EBQ Battery

Manstein's initial assessment on 24 November was that the 6th Army, given adequate air support, would be able to hold on. Hitler, aware that if Stalingrad were lost it would likely never be retaken, appointed Manstein as commander of the newly created Army Group Don (Heeresgruppe Don), tasked with mounting a relief operation named Operation Winter Storm (Unternehmen Wintergewitter), to reinforce the German hold on the city.[ Sony VAIO VGN-SR190EEJ/C Battery

Launched on 12 December, Winter Storm achieved some initial success. Manstein's three Panzer divisions (comprising the 23rd Panzer Grenadier Division and the 6th and 17th Panzer Divisions) and supporting units of the LVII Panzer Corps advanced to within 48 km (30 mi) of Stalingrad by 20 December at the Myshkova River, where they came under assault by Soviet tanks in blizzard conditions. Sony VAIO VGN-SR190NAB Battery

Manstein made a request to Hitler on 18 December that 6th Army should attempt to break out.[85] Hitler was against it, and both Manstein and Paulus were reluctant to openly disobey his orders.[86] Conditions deteriorated inside the city; the men suffered from lice, the cold weather, and inadequate supplies of food and ammunition. Sony VAIO VGN-SR190NBB Battery

Reichsminister of Aviation Hermann Göring had assured Hitler that the trapped 6th Army could be adequately supplied by air, but due to poor weather, a lack of aircraft, and mechanical difficulties, this turned out not to be the case.[87] On 24 January Manstein urged Hitler to allow Paulus to surrender, but he refused. Sony VAIO VGN-SR190NDB Battery

In spite of Hitler's wishes, Paulus surrendered with his remaining 91,000 troops on 31 January 1943. Some 200,000 German and Romanian soldiers died; of those who surrendered, only 6,000 survivors returned to Germany at the end of the war.[89] Sony VAIO VGN-SR190NEB Battery

American historians Williamson Murray and Allan Millett wrote that Manstein's message to Hitler on November 24 advising him that the 6th Army should not break out, along with Göring's statements that the Luffwaffe could supply Stalingrad, "... sealed the fate of Sixth Army".[90] Historians, including Gerhard Weinberg, Sony VAIO VGN-SR190NGB Battery

have pointed out that Manstein's version of the events at Stalingrad in his memoir is distorted and several events described there were probably made up.[91][92] "Because of the sensitivity of the Stalingrad question in post-war Germany, Manstein worked as hard to distort the record on this matter as on his massive involvement in the murder of Jews", wrote Weinberg.[93] Sony VAIO VGN-SR190PAB Battery

Meanwhile, the Soviets launched an offensive of their own. Operation Saturn was intended to capture Rostov and thus cut off the German Army Group A. However, after the launch of Winter Storm, the Soviets had to reallocate forces to prevent the relief of Stalingrad, so the operation was scaled down and redubbed "Little Saturn". Sony VAIO VGN-SR190PCB Battery

The offensive forced Manstein to divert forces to avoid the collapse of the entire front. The attack also prevented the XLVIII Panzer Corps(comprising the 336th Infantry Division, the 3rd Luftwaffe Field Division, and the 11th Panzer Division), under the command of General Otto von Knobelsdorff, from joining up with the LVII Panzer Corps as planned to aid the relief effort. Sony VAIO VGN-SR190PFB Battery

Instead, the XLVIII Panzer Corps held a line along the Chir River, beating off successive Russian attacks. General Hermann Balck used the 11th Panzer Division to counterattack Soviet salients. On the verge of collapse, the German units were able to hold the line, but the Italian 8th Army on the flanks was overwhelmed and subsequently destroyed.[ Sony VAIO VGN-SR19VN Battery

Spurred on by this success, the Soviets planned a series of follow-up offensives in January and February 1943 intended to decisively beat the Germans in southern Russia. After the destruction of the remaining Hungarian and Italian forces during the Ostrogozhsk–Rossosh Offensive, Operation Star and Operation Gallop were launched to recapture Kharkov and Kursk and to cut off all German forces east of Donetsk.Sony VAIO VGN-SR19VN Battery

Those operations succeeded in breaking through the German lines and threatened the whole southern part of the German front. To deal with this threat, Army Group Don, Army Group B, and parts of Army Group A were united as Army Group South (Heeresgruppe Süd) under Manstein's command in early February. Sony VAIO VGN-SR19VRN Battery

During their offensives in February 1943, the Soviets broke through the German lines, retaking Kursk on 9 February.[97] As Army Groups B and Don were in danger of being surrounded, Manstein repeatedly called for reinforcements. Although Hitler called on 13 February for Kharkov to be held "at all costs",[Sony VAIO VGN-SR19XN Battery

Commander Paul Hausser ordered the city evacuated on 15 February.[98] Hitler arrived at the front in person on 17 February, and over the course of three days of exhausting meetings, Manstein convinced him that offensive action was needed in the area to regain the initiative and prevent encirclement. Sony VAIO VGN-SR19XN Battery

Troops were reorganised and reinforcements were pulled into the zone from neighbouring armies. Manstein immediately began planning a counter-offensive, which was launched on 20 February. By 2 March, the Germans had captured 615 tanks and had killed some 23,000 Russian soldiers.[99] Sony VAIO VGN-SR210J/S Battery

To reinforce the point that the recapture of Kharkov was important politically, Hitler returned to the front on 10 March. Manstein carefully assembled his available forces along a wide front to prevent their encirclement and recaptured Kharkov on 14 March, after bloody street fighting in the Third Battle of Kharkov. Sony VAIO VGN-SR21M/S Battery

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