4th Panzer Army
The 4th Panzer Army was a German panzer formation during World War II. As a key armoured component of the Wehrmacht, the army took part in the crucial battles of the German-Soviet war of 1941–45, including Operation Barbarossa, the Battle of Moscow, the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk, the 1943 Battle of Kiev; as part of the German High Command's preparations for Operation Barbarossa, Generaloberst Erich Hoepner was appointed to command the 4th Panzer Group in February 1941. It was to drive toward Leningrad as part of Army Group North under Wilhelm von Leeb. On 30 March 1941, Hitler delivered a speech to about two hundred senior Wehrmacht officers where he laid out his plans for an ideological war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, he stated that "wanted to see the impending war against the Soviet Union conducted not according to the military principles, but as a war of extermination" against an ideological enemy, whether military or civilian. Many Wehrmacht leaders, including Hoepner, echoed the sentiment.
As a commander of the 4th Panzer Group, he issued a directive to his troops: The war against Russia is an important chapter in the struggle for existence of the German nation. It is the old battle of Germanic against Slav peoples, of the defence of European culture against Muscovite-Asiatic inundation, the repulse of Jewish-Bolshevism; the objective of this battle must be the destruction of present-day Russia and it must therefore be conducted with unprecedented severity. Every military action must be guided in planning and execution by an iron will to exterminate the enemy mercilessly and totally. In particular, no adherents of the present Russian-Bolshevik system are to be spared; the order was transmitted to the troops on Hoepner's initiative, ahead of the official OKW directives that laid the groundwork for the war of extermination, such as the Barbarossa Decree of 13 May 1941 and other orders. Hoepner's directive predated the first OKH draft of the Commissar Order; the historian Jürgen Förster wrote that Hoepner's directive represented an "independent transformation of Hitler's ideological intentions into an order".
The 4th Panzer Group consisted of the XLI Panzer Corps. Their composition was as follows: XXXXI Army Corps: 1st Panzer Division, 6th Panzer Division, 36th Infantry Division, 269th Infantry Division LVI Army Corps: 8th Panzer Division, 3rd Motorised Infantry Division, 290th Infantry Division SS Division Das Reich The Army Group was to advance through the Baltic States to Leningrad. Barbarossa commenced on 22 June 1941 with a massive German attack along the whole front line; the 4th Panzer Group headed for the Dvina River to secure the bridges near the town of Daugavpils. The Red Army mounted a number of counterattacks against the XLI Panzer Corps, leading to the Battle of Raseiniai. After Reinhardt's corps closed in, the two corps were ordered to encircle the Soviet formations around Luga. Again having penetrated deep into the Soviet lines with unprotected flanks, Manstein's corps was the target of a Soviet counteroffensive from 15 July at Soltsy by the Soviet 11th Army. Manstein's forces were badly mauled and the Red Army halted the German advance at Luga.
The army group defeated the defending Soviet Northwestern Front, inflicting over 90,000 casualties and destroying more than 1,000 tanks and 1,000 aircraft advanced northeast of the Stalin line. On 6 July 1941, Hoepner issued an order to his troops instructing them to treat the "loyal population" adding that "individual acts of sabotage should be charged to communists and Jews"; as with all German armies on the Eastern Front, Hoepner's panzer group implemented the Commissar Order that directed Wehrmacht troops to murder Red Army political officers upon capture, contravening the accepted laws of war. Between 2 July and 8 July, the 4th Panzer Group shot 101 Red Army political commissars, with the bulk of the executions coming from the XLI Panzer Corps. By 19 July, 172 executions of commissars had been reported. By mid-July, the 4th Panzer Group seized the Luga had plans to advance on Leningrad; the staff and detachments 2 and 3 of Einsatzgruppe A, one of the mobile killing squads following the Wehrmacht into the occupied Soviet Union, were brought up to the Luga district with assistance from the army.
"The movement of Einsatzgruppe A—which the army intended to use in Leningrad—was effected in agreement with Panzer Group 4 and at their express wish", noted Franz Walter Stahlecker, the commander of Einsatzgruppe A. Stahlecker described army co-operation as "generally good" and "in certain cases, as for example, with Panzer Group 4 under the command of General Hoepner close, one might say warm". By late July, Army Group North positioned 4th Panzer Group's units south and east of Narva, where they could begin an advance on Leningrad in terrain conditions suitable for armoured warfare. By that time, the army group lacked the strength to take Leningrad, which continued to be a high priority for the German high command. A compromise solution was worked out whereas the infantry would attack north from both sides of Lake Ilmen, while the panzer group would advance from its current position. Hoepner's forces began their advance on August 8, but the attack ran into determined Soviet defences. Elsewhere, Soviet counter-attacks threatened Leeb's southern flank.
By mid to late August, the German forces were making gains again, with the 4th Panzer Group taking Narva on
Second Army (Hungary)
The Hungarian Second Army was one of three field armies raised by the Kingdom of Hungary which saw action during World War II. All three armies were formed on March 1, 1940; the Second Army was the best-equipped Hungarian formation at the beginning of the war, but was eliminated as an effective fighting unit by overwhelming Soviet force during the Battle of Stalingrad, suffering 84% casualties. Towards the end of the war, a reformed Second Army fought more at the Battle of Debrecen, during the ensuing Siege of Budapest, it was destroyed and absorbed into the Hungarian Third Army; the Hungarian Second Army had four commanders from March 1, 1940 - November 13, 1944: Colonel General Vitéz Gusztáv Jány Colonel General Géza Lakatos Lieutenant General Lajos Veress von Dálnoki Lieutenant General Jenő Major The Kingdom of Hungary was a reluctant member of the Axis at the beginning of the European conflict. Hungary's head of state was Regent Admiral Miklós Horthy and the government was led by Prime Minister Pál Teleki.
On April 3, 1941, Teleki committed suicide when it became clear that Hungary was to take part in the invasion of Yugoslavia, its erstwhile ally. The comparatively small Hungarian Army had a peacetime strength of only 80,000 men. Militarily, the nation was divided into seven corps commands; each army corps consisted of three infantry divisions, each of which comprised three infantry regiments and an artillery regiment. Each corps included two cavalry brigades, two motorized infantry brigades, an anti-aircraft battery, a signals company, a cavalry reconnaissance troop. On March 11, 1940, the Hungarian Army was expanded to three field armies, each with three corps. All three of these field armies were to see action against the Red Army before the end of the war. Hungary did not participate in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Adolf Hitler did not directly ask for, nor want, Hungarian assistance at that time. Most of the Hungarian forces, including the three field armies, were relegated to duties within the reenlarged Hungarian state.
Hungary regained substantial portions of its territories, ceded following the loss of World War I and the resultant Treaty of Trianon. At the end of June 1941, Germany summoned Hungary to join in the attack on the Soviet Union. Hungary continued to resist joining in the war; the matter was settled on June 1941, when the Soviet air force bombed Košice. The Kingdom of Hungary declared war on the Soviet Union the next day, June 27, 1941. At first, only Hungary's "Karpat Group" with its integral "Rapid Corps" was sent to the Eastern Front, in support of the German 17th Army. Towards the end of 1941, only the battle weary "Rapid Corps" was left. But, before Horthy would gain Hitler's consent to withdraw the "Rapid Corps," he had to agree to deploy an larger Hungarian force. Of the 3 Hungarian field armies, high command decided to send the 2nd Army.. However the Armed Forces in general were so poorly equipped that all "modern" equipment was provided to the 2nd Army. After these desperate measures the 2nd Army still lacked adequate motorized transport and anti-armor weapons.
Germany has promised to provide the necessary equipment, but failed to deliver any meaningful quantities. All the armoured units Hungary had were re-organized into the 1st Hungarian Armored Division and attached to the 2nd Army. All combat-worthy aircraft and supporting units were organized into the 1st Flight Group attached to the 2nd Army. For both the armored and air units, shortages in supplies and equipment lead to significant delays and they were shipped to Russia later than infantry units. By April 11, 1942, the 209,000-man-strong Second Army was assigned to the German Army Group South in southern Russia. In June 1942, the Second Army became part of Army Group B in Operation Blue. Transportation of the army to the frontline began on 17 April 1942, the last units arrived by 27 June. During the transport, 19 of the total 822 railway trains suffered attack by Soviet guerilla units, causing casualties. In June and July 1942, prior to the Battle of Stalingrad, the Hungarian Second Army was involved in the Battle of Voronezh as part of Army Group B.
Fighting in and around the city of Voronezh on the Don River, the Hungarian troops supported the German 4th Panzer Army against the defending Soviet Voronezh Front. Though technically an Axis success, this pyrrhic victory fatally delayed the arrival of the 4th Panzer Army in the Caucasus. During these operations, the Hungarian Second Army had suffered severe casualties in manpower as without adequate air and armor support all assaults were carried out by infantry units only, against the skillful and determined defense conducted by the Soviet troops. Lack of transportation was so severe that there were examples of divisions marching over 1,000 km on foot from their disembarkation points to the first contact with the enemy. Artillery support during the offensive was limited for the same reason, leading to worse infantry losses; the Hungarian Second Army is the best known Hungarian wartime army because of the part it
Battle of Uman
The Battle of Uman was the German offensive operation against the 6th and 12th Soviet Armies — under the command of Lieutenant General I. N. Muzychenko and Major General P. G. Ponedelin, respectively; the battle occurred during the Kiev defensive operation between the elements of the Red Army's Southwestern Front, retreating from the Lwow salient, German Army Group South commanded by Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, as part of Operation Barbarossa on the Eastern Front during World War II. The Soviet forces were under overall command of the Southwestern Direction, commanded by Marshal Semyon Budyonny, which included the Southwestern Front commanded by Colonel General Mikhail Kirponos and Southern Front commanded by General Ivan Tyulenev; the battle finished by the encirclement and annihilation of 6th and 12th armies to the southeast of the Uman city. In the initial weeks of Operation Barbarossa, Army Group South had advanced East, defeating several Soviet mechanized corps at the great tank Battle of Brody 23–30 June.
The armies of the Southwestern Front were ordered to retreat to the line of fortifications along the old Soviet-Polish border of 1939. III and XXXXVIII Motorized corps of the 1st Panzer Group wedged in between the 5th and 6th Soviet armies. On July 5, XXXXVIII Motorized Corps cracked a weak defense on the Stalin Line and began to move embracing the right flank of the 6th Army. A new Soviet counter-attack was attempted on July 9 in the direction of Berdychiv to prevent further advance of the 1st Panzer Group to the east; the fighting continued until July 16, the 11th Panzer Division lost 2,000 men, but Soviet troops failed and on July 16 the German offensive continued. Further to the north, the mobile units of the III Motorized Corps overcame the Stalin Line and reached the approaches to Kiev; the command of Army Group South intended to capture Kiev while Hitler and the High Command insisted on a strike in the southern direction, which guaranteed the encirclement of the Soviet troops in conjunction with the 11th Army.
The compromise solution proposed the capture of Belaya Tserkov and after that a strike in the south-west direction towards the 11th Army. Such a decision left the possibility, instead of a strike to the southwest, to continue the offensive from Kiev farther east, beyond the Dnieper, but Kiev was secured by a separate fortified area, the rear communications of the III Motorized Corps were under attack from the 5th Army. So, in the opening days of Battle of Uman the task of encircling the 6th and 12th armies from the north and the east was to be done by divisions of the XXXXVIII Motorized Corps only. To help them, the third unit of the 1st Panzer Group, the XIV Motorized Corps, was transferred from the south and committed to action between the III and XXXXVIII Motorized corps in the direction to the Belaya Tserkov. Infantry units of the German 6th Field Army on the north hastened to replace the advanced tank units, the 17th Field Army on the west continued to pursue retreating forces of the Soviet 6th and 12th armies.
The advance of the 11th Field Army from the Soviet-Romanian border was suspended by Soviet counterblows, its attack from the south towards Vinnytsia was postponed. Most of the Soviet forces were depleted, having withdrawn under heavy assaults from the Luftwaffe from the Polish border, the mechanised units were reduced to a single "Corps" after the Brody counter-offensive, its mechanised infantry now fighting as ordinary rifle troops; the Axis forces were divided into those of 1st Panzer Group that had suffered significant losses in matériel, but retained combat effectiveness, the large infantry formations of the German and Romanian armies that attempted to advance from the West to meet the armored troops north of Crimea, the initial strategic objective of Army Group South. Since July 15, the XXXXVIII Motorized Corps of Wehrmacht repulsed the counter-attacks of the Soviet "Berdichev Group" and resumed the offensive; the 16th Panzer Division seized the city of Kazatin. On the left, the 11th Panzer division was in the gap between Soviet armies, so by July 16 it made a deep breakthrough to the South-East.
By July 18, the division advanced another 50 km, crossed the Ros' River and captured the settlement of Stavishche. The 16th Panzer Division, forced to repel counterattacks of the Soviet 6th Army, advanced slower, but by July 17 its forward detachment seized the Ros' station, where was an important Soviet base of rear services support. July 18, units of the 6th army managed to recapture the station. Further to the North, the XIV Motorized Corps advanced to Belaya Tserkov, but met counterattacks by the 26th Army; this army had no time to prepare the offensive, its divisions didn't have time to concentrate. They couldn't beat out the 9th Panzer Division from Belaya Tserkov, they for a short time captured Fastov. The advance of the 26th Army soon stopped, but its attacks contained the mobile units of the 1st Panzer Group. A similar situation was with the Panzer divisions of the III Motorized Corps. Halder, the chief of OKH, irritably wrote on July 18 that "the operation of the Army Group «South» is losing its shape", that "enveloping flank of the 1st Panzer Group is still hang about in the area of Berdichev and Belaya Tserkov".
At the same time the 17th Field Army from the West was approaching too and Halder feared that the future "cauldron" will not trap significant enemy forces. Meanwhile, the 17th Field Army tried to implement a shortcut version of the original plan, according to which the Soviet troops were to be surrounded to the
Case Blue 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, during World War II. The operation was a continuation of the previous year's Operation Barbarossa, intended to knock the Soviet Union out of the war, it involved a two-pronged attack: one from the Axis right flank against the oil fields of Baku, known as Operation Edelweiss, one from the left flank in the direction of Stalingrad along the Volga River, known as Operation Fischreiher. Army Group South of the German Army was divided into Army Groups A and B. Army Group A was tasked with crossing the Caucasus mountains to reach the Baku oil fields, while Army Group B protected its flanks along the Volga. Supported by 2,035 Luftwaffe aircraft and 1,934 tanks and assault guns, the 1,370,287-man Army Group South attacked on 28 June, advancing 48 kilometers on the first day and brushing aside the 1,715,000 Red Army troops opposite, who falsely expected a German offensive on Moscow after Blau commenced.
The Soviet collapse in the south allowed the Germans to capture the western part of Voronezh on 6 July and reach and cross the Don river near Stalingrad on 26 July. Army Group B's approach toward Stalingrad slowed in late July and early August owing to constant counterattacks by newly deployed Red Army reserves and overstretched German supply lines; the Germans defeated the Soviets in the Battle of Kalach and the combat shifted to the city itself in late August. Nonstop Luftwaffe airstrikes, artillery fire and street-to-street combat destroyed the city and inflicted heavy casualties on the opposing forces. After three months of battle, the Germans controlled 90% of Stalingrad on 19 November. In the south, Army Group A captured Rostov on 23 July and swept south from the Don to the Caucasus, capturing the demolished oilfields at Maikop on 9 August and Elista on 13 August near the Caspian Sea coast. Heavy Soviet resistance and the long distances from Axis sources of supply reduced the Axis offensive to local advances only and prevented the Germans from completing their strategic objective of capturing the main Caucasus oilfield at Baku.
Luftwaffe bombers destroyed the oilfields at Grozny but attacks on Baku were prevented by the insufficient range of the German fighters. The possibility that the Germans would continue to the south and east, link up with Japanese forces in India, was of great concern to the Allies. However, 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 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 just short of Moscow. Although the Germans had captured vast areas of land and important industrial centers, the Soviet Union remained in the war. 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 an offensive 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 follow-up campaign to the aborted Barbarossa offensive – with the Caucasus as its principal objective. On 5 April 1942, Hitler laid out the elements of the plan now known as "Case Blue" in Führer Directive No. 41. The directive stated the main goals of the 1942 summer campaign on Germany's Eastern Front: holding attacks for Army Group Centre, the capture of Leningrad and the link-up with Finland for AG North, the capture of the Caucasus region for Army Group South; the main focus was to be the capture of the 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; the region north of the mountains was a production center for grain and heavy farm machinery, while its two main oilfields, at Maykop, near the Black Sea, Grozny, about halfway between the Black and the Caspian Seas, produced about 10 percent of all Soviet oil.
South of the mountains lay Transcaucasia, comprising Georgia and Armenia. This industrialized and densely populated area contained some of the largest oilfields in the world. Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, was one of the richest, producing 80 percent of the Soviet Union's oil—about 24 million tons in 1942 alone; the Caucasus possessed plentiful coal and peat, as well as nonferrous and rare metals. 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 Union's total production. The Kuban region of the Caucasus produced large amounts of wheat, sunflower seeds, sugar beets, all essential in the production of food; these resources were of immense importance to the German war effort. Of the three million tons of oil Germany consumed per year, 85 percent was imported from the United States and Iran; when war broke out in September 1939, the British naval blockade cut Germany off from the Americas and the Middle East, leaving the country reliant on oil-rich European countries such as Romania to supply the resource.
An indication of German reliance on Romania is evident from its oil consumption.
An aerial tramway, sky tram, cable car, ropeway or aerial tram is a type of aerial lift which uses one or two stationary ropes for support while a third moving rope provides propulsion. With this form of lift, the grip of an aerial tramway cabin is fixed onto the propulsion rope and cannot be decoupled from it during operations. In comparison to gondola lifts, aerial tramways provide lower line capacities, higher wait times and are unable to turn corners; because of the proliferation of such systems in the Alpine regions of Europe, the French and German names, téléphérique and Seilbahn are also used in an English language context. Cable car is the usual term in British English, as in British English the word tramway refers to a railed street tramway while in American English, cable car may additionally refer to a cable-pulled street tramway with detachable vehicles; as such, careful phrasing is necessary to prevent confusion. It is sometimes called a ropeway or incorrectly referred to as a gondola lift.
A gondola lift has cabins suspended from a continuously circulating cable whereas aerial trams shuttle back and forth on cables. In Japan, the two are considered as the same category of vehicle and called ropeway, while the term cable car means Cable car and funicular. An aerial railway where the vehicles are suspended from a fixed track is known as a suspension railway. An aerial tramway consists of one or two fixed cables, one loop of cable, a number of passenger cabins; the fixed cables provide support for the cabins while the haulage rope, by means of a grip, is solidly connected to the truck. An electric motor drives the haulage rope. Aerial tramways are constructed as reversible systems. Aerial tramways differ from gondola lifts. Two-car tramways use a jig-back system: A large electric motor is located at the bottom of the tramway so that it pulls one cabin down, using that cabin's weight to help pull the other cabin up. A similar system of cables is used in a funicular railway; the two passenger cabins, which carry from 4 to over 150 people, are situated at opposite ends of the loops of cable.
Thus, while one is coming up, the other is going down the mountain, they pass each other midway on the cable span. Some aerial trams have only one cabin, which lends itself better for systems with small elevation changes along the cable run; the first design of an aerial lift was by Croatian polymath Fausto Veranzio and the first operational aerial tram was built in 1644 by Adam Wiebe in Gdańsk. It was used to move soil over the river to build defences, it is called the first known cable lift in European history and precedes the invention of steel cables. It is not known. In any case, it would be another 230 years before Germany would get the second cable lift, this newer version equipped with iron wire cable. Other mining systems were developed in the 1860s by Hodgson, Andrew Smith Hallidie. Hallidie went on to perfect a line of mining and people tramways after 1867 in California and Nevada. See Hallidie ropeway. Tramways are sometimes used in mountainous regions to carry ore from a mine located high on the mountain to an ore mill located at a lower elevation.
Ore tramways were common in the early 20th century at the mines in South America. One can still be seen in the San Juan Mountains of the US state of Colorado. Over one thousand mining tramways were built around the world—Spitsbergen, Alaska, New Zealand and Gabon; this experience was replicated with the use of tramways in the First World War on the Isonzo Front in Italy. The German firm of Bleichert built hundreds of freight and military tramways, built the first tourist tramway at Bolzano/Bozen, in Tyrolian Austria in 1913. Other firms entered the mining tramway business- Otto, Breco Ropeways Ltd. Ceretti and Tanfani, Riblet for instance. A major British contributor was Bullivant who became a constituent of British Ropes in 1924; the perfection of the aerial tramway through mining lead to its application in other fields including logging, sugar fields, beet farming, tea plantations, coffee beans and guano mining. A resource on the history of aerial tramways in the mining industry is "Riding the High Wire, Aerial Mine Tramways in the West" In the beginning of the 20th century the rise of the middle class and the leisure industry allowed for investment in sight seeing machines.
Prior to 1893 a combined goods and passenger carrying cableway was installed at Gibraltar. Its passengers were military personnel. An 1893 industry publication said of a two-mile system in Hong Kong that it "is the only wire tramway, erected for the carriage of individuals" Going to the Isle of Dogs by Lesser Columbus, Bullivant & Co. 1893 page 10. This item can be accessed through an original held by the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. After the pioneer cable car of 1907 at mount Ulia by Torres Quevedo others to the top of high peaks in the Alps of Austria and Switzerland resulted, they were much cheaper to build than the earlier rack railway. One of the first trams was at Chamonix, while others in Garmisch soon followed. From this, it was a natural transposition t
Richard Ruoff was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. He commanded the 17th Army on the Eastern Front. Ruoff took command of V Army Corps on 1 May 1939, led this unit into World War II, he concurrently commanded V Wehrkreis in Stuttgart. Ruoff was given command of the 4th Panzer Army from 8 January 1942 to 31 May 1942; the 4th Panzer Army was part of Army Group A, formed when Army Group South was split into two formations for the summer offensive of 1942. Ruoff commanded the 17th Army from 1 June 1942 to 24 June 1943; the 17th Army was part of Army Group A. Ruoff was the commander of the 17th Army when, on 3 June 1942, the Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia was subordinated to it. From June to July, the German 17th Army, the CSIR, the Romanian 3rd Army were organized as "Army Group Ruoff". By July 1942, Ruoff lost the Italian unit; the CSIR was subsumed by the larger Italian Army in Russia and transferred to Army Group B. During the late summer, as part of Army Group A, Ruoff and the 17th Army attacked towards the Caucasus oilfields.
By December, Soviet forces had destroyed the armies defending its flanks and had en-circled the German 6th Army at Stalingrad. Army Group B was withdrawn from southern Russia but Ruoff and the 17th Army were ordered to hold the "Kuban bridgehead." In June 1943, he was moved to the command reserve, saw no further action during the war. Serious allegations of war crimes were levied against the 17th Army under Ruoff's command in the 1943 Krasnodar Trial conducted by the military tribunal of the Soviet North Caucasian Front. However, post-war, the Soviet Union did not seek Ruoff's extradition. General Officer Commanding, 4th Panzer Army, Eastern Front - 1942 General Officer Commanding, 17th Army, Eastern Front - 1942 to 1943 Iron Cross Knight's Cross of the Military Merit Order Knight's Cross, First Class of the Friedrich Order Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 30 June 1941 as General der Infanterie and commander of V. Armeekorps Battle of the Caucasus Battle of Stalingrad
Crimea is a peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea in Eastern Europe, completely surrounded by both the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov to the northeast. It is located south of the Ukrainian region of Kherson, to which it is connected by the Isthmus of Perekop, west of the Russian region of Kuban, from which it is separated by the Strait of Kerch though linked by the Crimean Bridge; the Arabat Spit is located to the northeast, a narrow strip of land that separates a system of lagoons named Sivash from the Sea of Azov. Across the Black Sea to its west is Romania and to its south Turkey. Crimea has been at the boundary between the classical world and the Pontic–Caspian steppe, its southern fringe was colonised by the Greeks, the Persians, the Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Crimean Goths, the Genoese and the Ottoman Empire, while at the same time its interior was occupied by a changing cast of invading steppe nomads and empires, such as the Cimmerians, Sarmatians, Alans, Huns, Kipchaks and the Golden Horde.
Crimea and adjacent territories were united in the Crimean Khanate during the 15th to 18th century. In 1783, Crimea became a part of the Russian Empire as the result of the Russo-Turkish War. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Crimea became an autonomous republic within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in the USSR. During World War II, Crimea was downgraded to the Crimean Oblast after its entire indigenous population, the Crimean Tatars, were deported to Central Asia, an act recognized as a genocide. In 1954, it was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR from the Russian SFSR. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was formed as an independent state in 1991 and most of the peninsula was reorganized as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, while the city of Sevastopol retained its special status within Ukraine; the 1997 Partition Treaty on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet partitioned the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet and allowed Russia to continue basing its fleet in Crimea: both the Ukrainian Naval Forces and Russian's Black Sea Fleet were to be headquartered in Sevastopol.
Ukraine extended Russia's lease of the naval facilities under the 2010 Kharkiv Pact in exchange for further discounted natural gas. In February 2014, following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution that ousted the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, pro-Russian separatists and Russian Armed Forces took over the territory. A controversial Crimea-wide referendum, unconstitutional under the Ukrainian and Crimean constitutions, was held on the issue of reunification with Russia which official results indicated was supported by a large majority of Crimeans. Russia formally annexed Crimea on 18 March 2014, incorporating the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol as the 84th and 85th federal subjects of Russia; the classical name Tauris or Taurica is from the Greek Ταυρική, after the peninsula's Scytho-Cimmerian inhabitants, the Tauri. Strabo and Ptolemy refer variously to the Strait of Kerch as the Κιμμερικὸς Βόσπορος, its easternmost part as the Κιμμέριον Ἄκρον (Kimmerion Akron, Roman name: Promontorium Cimmerium, as well as to the city of Cimmerium and whence the name of the Kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporus.
The earliest recorded use of the toponym “Crimea” for the peninsula occurred between 1315-1329 AD by the Arab writer Abū al-Fidā where he recounts a political fight in 1300-1301 AD resulting in a rival's decapitation and having “sent his head to the Crimea”. The Crimean Tatar name of the peninsula is Qırım and so for the city of Krym, now called Stary Krym which served as a capital of the Crimean province of the Golden Horde; some sources hold that the name of the capital was extended to the entire peninsula at some point during Ottoman suzerainty. The origin of the word Qırım is uncertain. Suggestions argued in various sources: a corruption of Cimmerium. A derivation from the Turkic term qirum, from qori-. Other suggestions either unsupported or contradicted by sources based on similarity in sound, include: a derivation from the Greek Cremnoi. However, Herodotus identifies the port not in Crimea, but as being on the west coast of the Sea of Azov. No evidence has been identified that this name was in use for the peninsula.
The Turkic term is related to the Mongolian appellation kerm "wall", but sources indicate that the Mongolian appellation of the Crimean peninsula of Qaram is phonetically incompatible with kerm/kerem and therefore deriving from another original term. The name "Crimea" is the Italian form, i.e. la Crimea, since at least the 17th century and the "Crimean peninsula" becomes current during the 18th century replacing the classical name of Tauric Peninsula in the course of the 19th century. In English usage since the early modern period the Crimean Khanate is referred to as Crim Tartary; the omission of the definite article in English became common during the 20th century. The classical name was used in 1802 in the name of the Russian