Battle of Kiev (1941)
The First Battle of Kiev was the German name for the operation that resulted in a large encirclement of Soviet troops in the vicinity of Kiev during World War II. This encirclement is considered the largest encirclement in the history of warfare; the operation ran from 7 August to 26 September 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa, the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union. In Soviet military history, it is referred to as the Kiev Strategic Defensive Operation, with somewhat different dating of 7 July – 26 September 1941. Much of the Southwestern Front of the Red Army was encircled but small groups of Red Army troops managed to escape the pocket, days after the German panzers met east of the city, including the headquarters of Marshal Semyon Budyonny, Marshal Semyon Timoshenko and Commissar Nikita Khrushchev. Kirponos was killed while trying to break out; the battle was an unprecedented defeat for the Red Army, exceeding the Battle of Białystok–Minsk of June–July 1941. The encirclement trapped 452,700 soldiers, 2,642 guns and mortars and 64 tanks, of which scarcely 15,000 escaped from the encirclement by 2 October.
The Southwestern Front suffered 700,544 casualties, including 616,304 killed, captured or missing during the battle. The 5th, 37th, 26th, 21st and the 38th armies, consisting of 43 divisions, were annihilated and the 40th Army suffered many losses. Like the Western Front before it, the Southwestern Front had to be recreated from scratch. After the rapid progress of Army Group Centre through the central sector of the Eastern front, a huge salient developed around its junction with Army Group South by late July 1941. On 7-8 July 1941 the German forces managed to breakthrough the fortified Stalin Line in the southeast portion of Zhytomyr Oblast, which ran along the 1939 Soviet border. By 11 July 1941 the Axis ground forces reached the Dnieper tributary Irpin River; the initial attempt to enter the city right away was thwarted by troops of the Kiev ukrep-raion and counter offensive of 5th and 6th armies. Following that the advance on Kiev was halted and main effort shifted towards the Korosten ukrep-raion where was concentrated the Soviet 5th Army.
At the same time the 1st Panzer Army was forced to transition to defense due to counteroffensive of the Soviet 26th Army. A substantial Soviet force, nearly the entire Southwestern Front, positioned in and around Kiev was located in the salient. By end of July the Soviet front lost some of its units due to critical situation of the Southern Front caused by the German 17th army. While lacking mobility and armor due to high losses in tanks at the Battle of Uman on 3 August 1941, they nonetheless posed a significant threat to the German advance and were the largest single concentration of Soviet troops on the Eastern Front at that time. Both Soviet 6th and 12th armies were encircled at Uman where some 102,000 Red Army soldiers and officers were taken prisoners. On 30 July 1941, the German forces resumed their advance onto Kiev with the German 6th army attacking positions between the Soviet 26th army and the Kiev ukrep-raion troops. On 7 August 1941 it was halted again by the Soviet 5th, 37th, 26th and supported by the Pinsk Naval Flotilla.
With a help of local population around the city of Kiev along the 45 km frontline segment were dug anti-tanks ditches and installed other obstacles, established 750 pillboxes, planted 100,000 of mines. Some 35,000 soldiers were mobilized from local population along with some partisan detachments and couple of armored trains. On 19 July Hitler issued Directive No. 33 which would cancel the assault on Moscow in favor of driving south to complete the encirclement of Soviet forces surrounded in Kiev. However, on 12 August 1941, Supplement to Directive No. 34 was issued, it represented a compromise between Hitler, convinced the correct strategy was to clear the salient occupied by Soviet forces on right flank of Army Group Center in the vicinity of Kiev before resuming the drive to Moscow, Halder and Guderian, who advocated an advance on Moscow as soon as possible. The compromise required 2nd and 3rd Panzer Groups of Army Group Centre, which were redeploying in order to aid Army Group North and Army Group South be returned to Army Group Centre, together with the 4th Panzer Group of Army Group North, once their objectives were achieved.
The three Panzer Groups, under the control of Army Group Center, would lead the advance on Moscow. Halder, chief of staff of the OKH, Bock, commander of Army Group Center, were satisfied by the compromise, but soon their optimism faded as the operational realities of the plan proved too challenging. On 18 August, OKH submitted a strategic survey to Hitler regarding the continuation of operations in the East; the paper made the case for the drive to Moscow, arguing once again that Army Groups North and South were strong enough to accomplish their objectives without any assistance from Army Group Center. It pointed out that there was enough time left before winter to conduct only a single decisive operation against Moscow. On 20 August, Hitler rejected the proposal based on the idea that the most important objective was to deprive the Soviets of their industrial areas. On 21 August Jodl of OKW issued a directive, which summarized Hitler's instructions, to Brauchitsch commander of the Army; the paper reiterated that the capture of Moscow before the onset of winter was not a primary objective.
Rather, that the most important missions before the onset of winter were to seize the Crimea, the industrial and coal region of the Don.
Krasnodar is a city and the administrative center of Krasnodar Krai, located on the Kuban River 148 kilometers northeast of the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. As of the 2010 Census, its population was 774,234. According to the Federal Statistics Service of Russia, Krasnodar reached a population of 1,000,007 on September 22, 2018, thus the city is the 16th most populated city in Russia, the country’s 16th city with at least a million inhabitants, it was known as Yekaterinodar. Krasnodar was founded on January 1794 as Yekaterinodar; the original name meant "Catherine's Gift", recognizing both Catherine the Great's grant of land in the Kuban region to the Black Sea Cossacks and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, considered to be the patron of the city. City status was granted in 1867. On December 7, 1920, as a result of the October Revolution, Yekaterinodar was renamed Krasnodar; the new name consists of Krasno-. The city originated in 1793 as a military camp as a fortress built by the Cossacks to defend imperial borders and to assert Russian dominion over Circassia, a claim which Ottoman Turkey contested.
In the first half of the 19th century, Yekaterinodar grew into a busy center of the Kuban Cossacks, gaining official town status in 1867. By 1888 about 45,000 people lived in the city, which had become a vital trade center for southern Russia. In 1897 an obelisk commemorating the two-hundred-year history of the Kuban Cossacks was erected in Yekaterinodar. During the Russian Civil War the city changed hands several times, coming successively under the control of the Red Army and of the Volunteer Army. Many Kuban Cossacks, as committed anti-Bolsheviks, supported the White Movement. Lavr Kornilov, a White general, captured the city on April 10, 1918, only to be killed a week when a Bolshevik artillery shell blew up the farmhouse where he had set up his headquarters. During World War II units of the German Army occupied Krasnodar between August 12, 1942, February 12, 1943; the city was rebuilt and renovated after the war. German forces, including Gestapo and "mobile SS execution squads", killed thousands of Jews, "supposed Communist'partisans.'"
Shooting, hanging and gas vans were used. In the summer of 1943, the Soviets began trials, including of their own citizens, for collusion with the Nazis and for participation in war crimes; the first such trial took place at Krasnodar from July 14 to 17, 1943. The Krasnodar tribunal pronounced eight death sentences, which were summarily carried out in the city square in front of a crowd of about thirty thousand people. Krasnodar is the administrative center of the krai. Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is, together with twenty-nine rural localities, incorporated as the City of Krasnodar—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts; as a municipal division, the City of Krasnodar is incorporated as Krasnodar Urban Okrug. Krasnodar is home to the steel lattice hyperboloid tower built by the Russian engineer and scientist Vladimir Grigorievich Shukhov in 1928. Other attractions include St. Catherine's Cathedral, the State Arts Museum, a park and theater named after Maxim Gorky, the beautiful concert hall of the Krasnodar Philharmonic Society, considered to have some of the best acoustics in southern Russia, State Cossack Choir and the Krasnodar circus The most interesting place in Krasnodar is Krasnaya Street.
There are situated many sights of Krasnodar. At the beginning of the street, one can see the Central Concert Hall. A "Triumphal Arch" is situated in the middle of Krasnaya Street. Theater Square is home to the largest splash fountain in Europe; this fountain was inaugurated on September 25, 2011 along with an official ceremony to celebrate the City Day in Krasnodar. Krasnodar is the economic center of southern Russia. For several years, Forbes magazine named Krasnodar the best city for business in Russia; the industrial sector of the city has more than 130 medium-sized enterprises. The main industries of Krasnodar: Agriculture and food industry: 42.8% Energy sector: 13.4% Fuel industry: 10.5% Machine construction: 9.4% Forestry and chemical industries: about 4%Krasnodar is a developed commercial area, has the largest annual turnover in the Southern Federal District of Russia. Retail trade turnover in 2010 reached 290 billion rubles. Per capita, Krasnodar has the highest number of malls in Russia.
Note that in the crisis year 2009 turnover of Krasnodar continued to grow, while most of the cities showed a negative trend in the sale of goods. Krasnodar has the lowest unemployment rate among the cities of the Southern Federal District at 0.3% of the total working-age population. In addition, Krasnodar holds the first place in terms of highest average salary - 21,742 rubles per capita. Tourism comprises a large part of Krasnodar's economy. There are more than 80 hotels in Krasnodar; the Hilton Garden Inn, opened in 2013, is the first world-class hotel in the city. As in many other major cities in Russia, the primary mode of local transportation in Krasnodar is the automobile, though efforts have been made to increase the availability of alternative modes of transportation, including the construction of light railways, biking paths, wide sidewalks. Public transport
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rough terrain, rolling hills and ridges formed by the geological features of the Ardennes mountain range and the Moselle and Meuse River basins. Geologically, the range is a western extension of the Eifel, both were raised during the Givetian age of the Devonian as were several other named ranges of the same greater range. Located in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching as well into Germany and France, geologically into the Eifel—the eastern extension of the Ardennes Forest into Bitburg-Prüm, most of the Ardennes proper consists of southeastern Wallonia, the southern and more rural part of the Kingdom of Belgium; the eastern part of the Ardennes forms the northernmost third of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg called "Oesling", on the southeast the Eifel region continues into the German state of the Rhineland-Palatinate. The trees and rivers of the Ardennes provided the charcoal industry assets that enabled the great industrial period of Wallonia in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was arguably the second great industrial region of the world, after England.
The greater region maintained an industrial eminence into the 20th century, after coal replaced charcoal in metallurgy. Allied generals in World War II felt the region was impenetrable to massed vehicular traffic and armor, so the area was "all but undefended" during the war, leading to the German Army's twice using the region as an invasion route into Northern France and Southern Belgium, via Luxembourg in the Battle of France and the Battle of the Bulge. Much of the Ardennes is covered in dense forests, with the mountains averaging around 350–400 m in height but rising to over 694 m in the boggy moors of the Hautes Fagnes region of south-eastern Belgium; the region is typified by steep-sided valleys carved by swift-flowing rivers, the most prominent of, the Meuse. Its most populous cities are Verviers in Belgium and Charleville-Mézières in France, both exceeding 50,000 inhabitants; the Ardennes is otherwise sparsely populated, with few of the cities exceeding 10,000 inhabitants. The Eifel range in Germany adjoins the Ardennes and is part of the same geological formation, although they are conventionally regarded as being two distinct areas.
Signal de Botrange 694 m, highest peak in the High Fens, Province of Liège, Weißer Stein 692 m, Mürringen, Province of Liège, Baraque Michel 674 m, Province of Liège, Baraque de Fraiture 652 m, highest point of the Plateau des Tailles, Province of Luxembourg, Lieu-dit Galata 589 m, highest point on the Plateau de Saint-Hubert, Province of Luxembourg, Kneiff, 560 m, highest point of Luxembourg Buurgplaatz, 559 m, highest point in the Oesling section of the Ardennes, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Napoléonsgaard 547 m, near Rambrouch-Rammerech, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Croix-Scaille 504 m, hosting the Tour du Millénaire, Province of Namur, in Belgium on the border to France. N. B; the Belgian Province of Luxembourg in the above list is not to be confused with the country known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The Ardennes is an old mountain range formed during the Hercynian orogeny; the low interior of such old mountains contains coal, plus iron and other metals in the sub-soil. This geologic fact explains the greatest part of the geography of its history.
In the North and West of the Ardennes lie the valleys of the Sambre and Meuse rivers, forming an arc going across the most industrial provinces of Wallonia, for example Hainaut, along the river Haine. The region was uplifted by a mantle plume during the last few hundred thousand years, as measured from the present elevation of old river terraces; this geological region is important in the history of Wallonia because this old mountain is at the origin of the economy, the history, the geography of Wallonia. "Wallonia presents a wide range of rocks of various ages. Some geological stages internationally recognized were defined from rock sites located in Wallonia: e.g. Frasnian, Tournaisian, Visean and Namurian". Except for the Tournaisian, all these rocks are within the Ardennes geological area; the Ardennes includes the greatest part of the Belgian province of Luxembourg, the south of the province of Namur and the province of Liège plus a small part of the province of Hainaut, as well as the northernmost third of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, called Oesling and the main part of the French department called Ardennes.
Before the 19th century industrialization, the first furnaces in the four Walloon provinces and in the French Ardennes used charcoal for fuel, made from harvesting the Ardennes forest. This industry was in the extreme south of the present-day Belgian province of Luxembourg (which until 1839 was part of the Grand Duchy of Luxe
Gerd von Rundstedt
Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt was a Field Marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. Born into a Prussian family with a long military tradition, Rundstedt entered the Prussian Army in 1892. During World War I, he served as a staff officer. In the inter-war years, he continued his military career, reaching the rank of Colonel General before retiring in 1938, he was recalled at the beginning of World War II as commander of Army Group South in the invasion of Poland. He commanded Army Group A during the Battle of France, requested the Halt Order during the Battle of Dunkirk, he was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal in 1940. In the invasion of the Soviet Union, he commanded Army Group South, responsible for the largest encirclement in history, the Battle of Kiev, he was relieved of command in December 1941, but was recalled in 1942 and appointed Commander-in-Chief in the West. He was dismissed after the German defeat in Normandy in July 1944, but was again recalled as Commander-in-Chief in the West in September, holding this post until his final dismissal by Adolf Hitler in March 1945.
Rundstedt was aware of the various plots to depose Hitler, but refused to support them. After the war, he was charged with war crimes, but did not face trial due to his age and poor health, he was released in 1949, died in 1953. Gerd von Rundstedt was born in Aschersleben, north of Halle in Prussian Saxony, he was the eldest son of Gerd Arnold Konrad von Rundstedt, a cavalry officer who served in the Franco-Prussian War. The Rundstedts are an old Junker family that traced its origins to the 12th century and classed as members of the Uradel, or old nobility, although they held no titles and were not wealthy. All the Rundstedt men since the time of Frederick the Great had served in the Prussian Army. Rundstedt's mother, Adelheid Fischer, was of Huguenot descent, he was the eldest of four brothers, all of whom became Army officers. Rundstedt's education followed the path ordained for Prussian military families: the junior cadet college at Diez, near Koblenz the military academy at Lichterfelde in Berlin.
Unable to meet the cost of joining a cavalry regiment, Rundstedt joined the 83rd Infantry Regiment in March 1892 as a cadet officer. The regiment was based at Kassel in Hesse-Kassel, which he came to regard as his home town and where he maintained a home until 1945, he undertook further training at the military college at Hannover, before being commissioned as a lieutenant in June 1893. He made a good impression on his superiors. In 1896 he was made regimental adjutant, in 1903 he was sent to the prestigious War Academy in Berlin for a three-year staff officer training course. At the end of his course Rundstedt was described as "an outstandingly able officer... well suited for the General Staff." He married Luise “Bila” von Goetz in January 1902 and their only child, Hans Gerd von Rundstedt, was born in January 1903. Rundstedt joined the General Staff of the German Army in April 1907 serving there until July 1914, when he was appointed chief of operations to the 22nd Reserve Infantry Division.
This division was part of XI Corps, which in turn was part of General Alexander von Kluck's First Army. In 1914 this Army was deployed along the Belgian border, in preparation for the invasion of Belgium and France, in accordance with the German plan for victory in the west known as the Schlieffen Plan. Rundstedt served as 22nd Division's chief of staff during the invasion of Belgium, but he saw no action since his Division was held in reserve during the initial advance. In December 1914, suffering from a lung ailment, he was promoted to Major and transferred to the military government of Antwerp. In April 1915, his health recovered, he was posted as chief of staff to the 86th Infantry Division, serving as part of General Max von Gallwitz's forces on the Eastern Front. In September he was once again given an administrative post, as part of the military government of German-occupied Poland, based in Warsaw, he stayed in this post until November 1916, until he was promoted by being made chief of staff to an Army Corps, XXV Reserve Corps, fighting in the Carpathians.
Here he saw much action against the Russians. In October 1917 he was appointed chief of staff to LIII Corps, in northern Poland; the following month, the October Revolution led to the collapse of the Russian armies and the end of the war on the eastern front. In August 1918 Rundstedt was transferred to the west, as chief of staff to XV Corps in Alsace, under General Felix Graf von Bothmer. Here he remained until the end of the war in November. Bothmer described him as "a wholly excellent staff officer and amiable comrade." He was awarded the Iron Cross, first class, was recommended for the Pour le Mérite, but did not receive it. He thus ended World War I, although still a major, with a high reputation as a staff officer. Rundstedt's Corps disintegrated in the wake of defeat and the German Revolution, but while most officers were demobilised, he remained in the Army at the request of General Wilhelm Groener, who assumed leadership of the shattered Army, he rejoined the General Staff, but this was abolished under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919.
In October Rundstedt was posted to the staff of Military District V, based in Stuttgart, under General Walter von Bergmann. He was there when the attempted military coup known as the Kapp Putsch took place in March 1920. Bergmann and Rundstedt, like most of the Army leadership, refused to support the coup attempt: Rundstedt described it as "a failure and a stupid one at that." This was not an indication of any fondness
Battle of Belgium
The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign referred to within Belgium as the 18 Days' Campaign, formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War. It took place over 18 days in May 1940 and ended with the German occupation of Belgium following the surrender of the Belgian Army. On 10 May 1940, Germany invaded Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium under the operational plan Fall Gelb; the Allied armies attempted to halt the German Army in Belgium, believing it to be the main German thrust. After the French had committed the best of the Allied armies to Belgium between 10 and 12 May, the Germans enacted the second phase of their operation, a break-through, or sickle cut, through the Ardennes, advanced toward the English Channel; the German Army reached the Channel after five days. The Germans reduced the pocket of Allied forces, forcing them back to the sea; the Belgian Army surrendered on 28 May 1940. The Battle of Belgium included the first tank battle of the Battle of Hannut.
It was the largest tank battle in history at the time but was surpassed by the battles of the North African Campaign and the Eastern Front. The battle included the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael, the first strategic airborne operation using paratroopers attempted; the German official history stated that in the 18 days of bitter fighting, the Belgian Army were tough opponents, spoke of the "extraordinary bravery" of its soldiers. The Belgian collapse forced the Allied withdrawal from continental Europe; the British Royal Navy subsequently evacuated Belgian ports during Operation Dynamo, allowing the British Expeditionary Force, along with many Belgian and French soldiers, to escape capture and continue military operations. France reached its own armistice with Germany in June 1940. Belgium was occupied by the Germans until the autumn of 1944, when it was liberated by the Western Allies; the Belgian strategy for a defence against German aggression faced political as well as military problems. In terms of military strategy, the Belgians were unwilling to stake everything on a linear defence of the Belgian–German border, in an extension of the Maginot Line.
Such a move would leave the Belgians vulnerable to a German assault in their rear, through an attack on the Netherlands. Such a strategy would rely on the French to move into Belgium and support the garrison there. Politically, the Belgians did not trust the French. Marshal Philippe Pétain had suggested a French strike at Germany's Ruhr area using Belgium as a spring-board in October 1930 and again in January 1933. Belgium feared it would be drawn into a war regardless, sought to avoid that eventuality; the Belgians feared being drawn into a war as a result of the French–Soviet pact of May 1935. The Franco-Belgian agreement stipulated Belgium was to mobilise if the Germans did, but what was not clear was whether Belgium would have to mobilise in the event of a German invasion of Poland; the Belgians much preferred an alliance with the United Kingdom. The British had entered the First World War in response to the German violation of Belgian neutrality; the Belgian Channel ports had offered the German Imperial Navy valuable bases, such an attack would offer the German Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe bases to engage in strategic offensive operations against the United Kingdom in the coming conflict.
But the British government paid little attention to the concerns of the Belgians. The lack of this commitment ensured the Belgian withdrawal from the Western Alliance, the day before the remilitarisation of the Rhineland; the lack of opposition to the remilitarisation served to convince the Belgians that France and Britain were unwilling to fight for their own strategic interests, let alone Belgium's. The Belgian General Staff was determined to fight for its own interests; the French were infuriated at King Leopold III's open declaration of neutrality in October 1936. The French Army saw; the French were dependent on. Such a situation deprived the French any prepared defences in Belgium to forestall an attack, a situation which the French had wanted to avoid as it meant engaging the German Panzer Divisions in a mobile battle; the French considered invading Belgium in response to a German attack on the country. The Belgians, recognising the danger posed by the Germans, secretly made their own defence policies, troop movement information, fixed defence dispositions and air reconnaissance arrangements available to the French military attaché in Brussels.
The Allied plan to aid Belgium was the Dyle Plan. The choice of an established Allied line lay in either reinforcing the Belgians in the east of the country, at the Meuse–Albert Canal line, holding the Scheldt Estuary, thus linking the French defences in the south with the Belgian forces protecting Ghent and Antwerp, seemed to be the soundest defensive strategy; the weakness of the plan was that, politically at least, it abandoned most of eastern Belgium to the Germans. Militarily it would put the Allied rear at right angles to the French frontier defences. Despite the risk
Third Battle of Kharkov
The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of battles on the Eastern Front of World War II, undertaken by the German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov between 19 February and 15 March 1943. Known to the German side as the Donets Campaign, 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 wider attacks against the rest of Army Group South. These culminated on 2 January 1943 when the Red Army launched Operation Star and Operation Gallop, which between January and early February broke German defenses and led to the Soviet recapture of Kharkov, Kursk, as well as Voroshilovgrad and Izium; the Soviet victories caused participating Soviet units to over-extend themselves, though this was due to Manstein's strategy of controlled retreat towards the Dneiper. Freed on 2 February by the surrender of the German Sixth Army, the Red Army's Central Front turned its attention west and on 25 February expanded its offensive against both Army Group South and Army Group Center.
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 and two panzer armies. Manstein benefited from the massive air support of Field Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen's Luftflotte 4, whose 1,214 aircraft flew over 1,000 sorties per day from 20 February to 15 March to support the German Army, a level of airpower equal to that during the Case Blue strategic offensive a year earlier; the Wehrmacht flanked and defeated the Red Army's 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 house-to-house fighting before Kharkov was recaptured by the 1st SS Panzer Division on 15 March.
The German forces recaptured Belgorod two days 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, which had suffered 4,300 men killed and wounded by the time operations ended in mid-March. 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 Army's commanding officers surrendered, an estimated 90,000 men were captured by the Red Army. 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, by the start of 1943 the Wehrmacht was around 470,000 men below full strength on the Eastern Front. At the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht was equipped with around 3,300 tanks.
As the forces of the Don Front were destroying the German forces in Stalingrad, the Red Army's command ordered the Soviet forces to conduct a new offensive, which encompassed the entire southern wing of the Soviet–German front from Voronezh to Rostov. On 2 February, the Red Army launched Operation Star, threatening to liberate 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 and pressing into the German rear. On 15 February, two fresh Soviet tank corps threatened the city of Zaporizhia on the Dnieper River, which controlled the last major road to Rostov and housed the headquarters of Army Group South and Luftflotte 4. Despite Hitler's orders to hold the city, Kharkov was abandoned by German forces and the city was recaptured by the Red Army on 16 February. Hitler flew to Manstein's headquarters at Zaporizhia. Manstein informed him that an immediate counterattack on Kharkov would be fruitless, but that he could attack the overextended Soviet flank with his five Panzer Corps, recapture the city later.
On 19 February Soviet armored units approached the city. In view of the worsening situation, Hitler gave Manstein operational freedom; when Hitler departed, the Soviet forces were only some 30 kilometers away from the airfield. In conjunction with Operation Star the Red Army launched Operation Gallop south of Star, pushing the Wehrmacht away from the Donets, taking Voroshilovgrad and Izium, worsening the German situation further. 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 the 70th Army. These forces were repositioned between the junction of South. Known to the Soviet forces as the Kharkov and Donbas operations, the offensive sought to surround and destroy German forces in the Orel salient, cross the Desna River and surround and destroy German Army Group Center.
Planned to begin between 12–15 February, deployment problems forced Stavka to push the start date back to 25 February. Meanwhile, the Soviet 60th Army pushed the
Armistice of 22 June 1940
The Armistice of 22 June 1940 was signed at 18:36 near Compiègne, France, by officials of Nazi Germany and the French Third Republic. It did not come into effect until after midnight on 25 June. Signatories for Germany included senior military officers like Wilhelm Keitel, the commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht, while those on the French side were more junior, such as General Charles Huntziger. Following the decisive German victory in the Battle of France, this armistice established a German occupation zone in Northern and Western France that encompassed all English Channel and Atlantic Ocean ports and left the remainder "free" to be governed by the French. Adolf Hitler deliberately chose Compiègne Forest as the site to sign the armistice due to its symbolic role as the site of the 1918 Armistice with Germany that signaled the end of World War I with Germany's surrender; the best, most modernised French armies had been lost in the resulting encirclement. Between May and June, French forces were in general retreat and Germany threatened to occupy Paris.
The French government was forced to relocate to Bordeaux on 10 June to avoid capture and declared Paris to be an open city the same day. By 22 June, the German Armed Forces had losses of 27,000 dead, more than 111,000 wounded and 18,000 missing. French losses were more than 200,000 wounded; the British Expeditionary Force suffered 68,000 casualties, with around 10,000 killed. When Adolf Hitler received word from the French government that they wished to negotiate an armistice, Hitler selected Compiègne Forest as the site for the negotiations; as Compiègne was the site of the 1918 Armistice ending the Great War with Germany's conflict cessation, Hitler used this place as a supreme moment of revenge for Germany over France. Hitler decided that the signing should take place in the same rail carriage, the Compiègne Wagon, where the Germans had signed the 1918 armistice. However, in the last sentence of the preamble, the drafters inserted "However, Germany does not have the intention to use the armistice conditions and armistice negotiations as a form of humiliation against such a valiant opponent", referring to the French forces.
Furthermore, in Article 3, Clause 2, the drafters stated that their intention was not to occupy North-West France after the cessation of hostilities with Britain. William Shirer, present on that day, reports, "I am but fifty yards from him. I have seen that face many times at the great moments of his life, but today! It is afire with scorn, hate, triumph." In the same railway carriage in which the 1918 Armistice had been signed, on 21 June 1940, Hitler sat in the same chair in which Marshal Ferdinand Foch had sat when he faced the representatives of the defeated German Empire. After listening to the reading of the preamble, Hitler – in a calculated gesture of disdain for the French delegates – left the carriage, as Foch had done in 1918, leaving the negotiations to his Oberkommando der Wehrmacht Chief, General Wilhelm Keitel. Negotiations lasted one day, until the evening of 22 June 1940: General Huntzinger had to discuss the terms by phone with the French government representatives who had fled to Bordeaux with the newly nominated defence minister, General Maxime Weygand.
Adolf Hitler had a number of reasons for agreeing to an armistice. He wanted to ensure that France did not continue to fight from North Africa, he wanted to ensure that the French Navy was taken out of the war. In addition, leaving a French government in place would relieve Germany of the considerable burden of administering French territory as he turned his attentions towards Britain; as Germany lacked a navy sufficient to occupy France's overseas territories, Hitler's only practical recourse to deny the British use of them was to maintain a formally independent and neutral French rump state. According to William Shirer's book Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, French General Charles Huntziger complained that the armistice terms imposed on France were harsher than those imposed on Germany in 1918, they provided for German occupation of three-fifths of France north and west of a line through Geneva and Tours and extending to the Spanish border, so as to give Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine access to all French Channel and Atlantic ports.
All persons, granted political asylum had to be surrendered and all occupation costs had to be borne by France 400 million French francs a day. A minimal French Army would be permitted; as one of Hitler's few concessions, the French Navy was to be disarmed but not surrendered, for Hitler realized that pushing France too far could result in France fighting on from the French colonial empire. An unoccupied region in the south, the Zone libre, was left free to be governed by a rump French administration based in Vichy, which administered the occupied zones, albeit under severe restrictions; this was envisaged to last. At the time, both French and Germans thought the occupation would be a provisional state of affairs and last only until Britain came to terms, believed to be imminent. For instance, none of the French delegation objected to the stipulation that French soldiers would remain prisoners of war until the cessation of all hostilities. Nearly one million Frenchmen were thus forced to spend the next five years in prisoner of war camps (about a third of the initial 1.5 million prisoners taken were released or exchanged as part of the Service du Travail Obligatoire for