The Demyansk Pocket was the name given to the pocket of German troops encircled by the Red Army around Demyansk, south of Leningrad, during World War II on the Eastern Front. The pocket existed from 8 February to 21 April 1942. A much smaller force was surrounded in the Kholm Pocket at the town of Kholm, about 100 km to the southwest. Both resulted from the German retreat following their defeat during the Battle of Moscow; the successful defence of Demyansk, achieved through the use of an airbridge, was a significant development in modern warfare. Its success was a major contributor to the decision by the Army High Command to try the same tactic during the Battle of Stalingrad where it failed to save the 6th Army under Paulus; the encirclement began as the Demyansk Offensive Operation, the first phase being carried out from 7 January-20 May 1942 on the initiative of General Lieutenant Pavel Kurochkin, commander of Northwestern Front. The intention was to sever the link between the German Demyansk positions, the Staraya Russa railway that formed the lines of communication of the German 16th Army.
However, owing to the difficult wooded and swampy terrain, heavy snow cover, the initial advance by the Front was modest against stubborn opposition. On 8 January, a new offensive called the Rzhev–Vyazma Strategic Offensive Operation started; this incorporated the previous Front's planning into the Toropets–Kholm Offensive Operation between 9 January and 6 February 1942 which formed the southern pincer of the attack that, beginning the second phase of the northern pincer Demyansk Offensive Operation between 7 January and 20 May, which encircled the German 16th Army's II Army Corps, parts of the X Army Corps during winter 1941/1942. German forces inside the pocket consisted of 12th, 30th, 32nd, 123rd and 290th infantry divisions, the SS Division Totenkopf, as well as Reich Labour Service, Organisation Todt, other auxiliary units, for a total of about 90,000 German troops and around 10,000 auxiliaries, their commander was commander of the II Army Corps. The intent of the Northwestern Front offensive was to encircle the entire northern flank of the 16th Army's forces, of which the 2nd Army Corps was only a small part, the Soviet command was desperate to keep the Front moving after this success.
The first thrust was made by the 11th Army, 1st Shock Army and the 1st and 2nd Guards Rifle Corps released for the operation from Stavka reserve. A second thrust was executed on 12 February by the 3rd and 4th Shock Armies of the Kalinin Front, with the additional plan of directly attacking the encircled German forces by inserting two airborne brigades to support the advance of the 34th Army; the front soon settled as the Soviet offensive petered out bad weather. After being assured that the pocket could be supplied with its daily requirement of 300 short tons of supplies by Luftflotte 1, Hitler ordered that the surrounded divisions hold their positions until relieved; the pocket contained two viable airfields at Demyansk and Peski capable of receiving transport aircraft. From the middle of February, the weather improved and while there was still considerable snow on the ground at this time, resupply operations were very successful due to inactivity of the VVS in the area. However, the operation did use up all of Luftflotte 1's transport capability, as well as elements of its bomber force.
Over the winter and spring, the Northwestern Front launched a number of attacks on the "Ramushevo corridor" that formed the tenuous link between Demyansk and Staraya Russa but was unable to reduce the pocket. On 21 March 1942, German forces under the command of General Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach attempted to manoevre through the "Ramushevo corridor". Soviet resistance on the Lovat River delayed II Corps' attack until April 14. Over the next several weeks, this corridor was widened. A battle group was able to break the siege on 22 April. Out of the 100,000 men in the pocket, there were 3,335 lost and over 10,000 wounded. Between the forming of the pocket in early February to the abandonment of Demyansk in May, the two pockets received 65,000 short tons of supplies, 31,000 replacement troops, 36,000 wounded were evacuated; the supplies were delivered through over 100 flights of whitewashed Junkers Ju 52 transport aircraft per day. However, the cost was significant; the Luftwaffe lost 265 aircraft, including 106 Junkers Ju 52, 17 Heinkel He 111 and two Junkers Ju 86 aircraft.
In addition, 387 airmen were lost. Richard Overy argues that the Demyansk airlift was a Pyrrhic victory, citing the loss of over 200 aircraft and their crew "when annual production of transports was running at only 500. Fighting in the area continued until 28 February 1943; the Soviet forces did not retake Demyansk until 1 March 1943, with the organized withdrawl of the German troops. The success of the Luftwaffe convinced Reich Marschall Hermann Göring and Hitler that they could conduct effective airlift operations on the Eastern front. Furthermore, it "determined Hitler in his belief that encircled troops should automatically hold on to their territory. After the German 6th Army was encircled in the Battle of Stalingrad, Göring convinced Hitler to resupply the besieged forces by airlift until a relief effort could reach them.
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
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
The First American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942, nicknamed the Flying Tigers, was composed of pilots from the United States Army Air Corps and Marine Corps, recruited under President Franklin Roosevelt's authority before Pearl Harbor and commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. The aircraft were to be under American control; the mission was to bomb Japan and defend China but many delays meant they flew in combat after the US and Japan declared war. The group consisted of three fighter squadrons of around 30 aircraft each, it trained in Burma before the American entry into World War II to defend China against Japanese forces. The group of volunteers were members of the Chinese Air Force; the members of the group had contracts with salaries ranging from $250 a month for a mechanic to $750 for a squadron commander three times what they had been making in the U. S. forces. While it accepted some civilian volunteers for its headquarters and ground crew, the AVG recruited most of its staff from the U.
S. military. The group first saw combat on 20 December 1941, 12 days after Pearl Harbor, it demonstrated innovative tactical victories when the news in the U. S. was filled with little more than stories of defeat at the hands of the Japanese forces and achieved such notable success during the lowest period of the war for both the U. S. and the Allied Forces as to give hope to America that it might defeat Japan. AVG pilots earned official credit and received combat bonuses for destroying 296 enemy aircraft, while losing only 14 pilots in combat; the combat records of the AVG still exist and researchers have found them credible. On 4 July 1942 the AVG was disbanded and replaced by the 23rd Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Forces, absorbed into the U. S. Fourteenth Air Force with General Chennault as commander; the 23rd FG went on to achieve similar combat success, while retaining the nose art on the left-over P-40s. The American Volunteer Group was the creation of Claire L. Chennault, a retired U.
S. Army Air Corps officer who had worked in China since August 1937, first as military aviation advisor to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in the early months of the Sino-Japanese War as director of a Chinese Air Force flight school centered in Kunming. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union supplied fighter and bomber squadrons to China, but these units were withdrawn by the summer of 1940. Chiang asked for American combat aircraft and pilots, sending Chennault to Washington as an adviser to China's ambassador and Chiang's brother-in-law, T. V. Soong. Chennault spent the winter of 1940–1941 in Washington, supervising the purchase of 100 Curtiss P-40 fighters and the recruiting of 100 pilots and some 200 ground crew and administrative personnel that would constitute the 1st AVG, he laid the groundwork for a follow-on bomber group and a second fighter group, though these would be aborted after the Pearl Harbor attack. Of the pilots, 60 came from 40 from the Army Air Corps; the volunteers were discharged from the armed services, to be employed for "training and instruction" by a private military contractor, the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company, which paid them $600 a month for pilot officers, $675 a month for flight leaders, $750 for squadron leaders, about $250 for skilled ground crewmen.
Some of the pilots were orally promised a bounty of $500 for each enemy aircraft shot down, but no one knew if that would happen until they returned home and found the funds deposited in their bank. During the summer and fall 1941, some 300 men carrying civilian passports boarded ships destined for Burma, they were based at a British airfield in Toungoo for training while their aircraft were assembled and test flown by CAMCO personnel at Mingaladon Airport outside Rangoon. Chennault set up a schoolhouse, made necessary because many pilots had "lied about their flying experience, claiming pursuit experience when they had flown only bombers and sometimes much less powerful aeroplanes." They called Chennault "the Old Man" due to his much older age and leathery exterior obtained from years flying open cockpit pursuit aircraft in the Army Air Corps. Most believed that he had flown as a fighter pilot in China, although stories that he was a combat ace are apocryphal. Of the 300 original members of the CAMCO personnel, 9 were Chinese-Americans recruited from America's Chinatowns.
All 9 were trained at Allison Engineworks in Indianapolis, Indiana: all were P-40 mechanics. Upon arrival in Kunming, 2 other Chinese-Americans were hired, a Ford Motor truck specialist and a doctor. Total original Chinese-Americans were 11. Prior to July 4, 1942, 3 of the P-40 mechanics resigned; the official AVG roster lists the original 8. The AVG was created by an executive order of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, he did not speak English and Chennault never learned to speak Chinese. As a result, all communications between the two men were routed through Soong Mei-ling, "Madame Chiang" as she was known to Americans, she was designated the group's "honorary commander." Chennault preached a radically different approach to air combat based on his study of Japanese tactics and equipment, his observation of the tactics used by Soviet pilots in China, his judgment of the strengths and weaknesses of his own aircraft and pilots. The actual average strength of the AVG was
The Berlin Blockade was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. During the multinational occupation of post–World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Western control; the Soviets offered to drop the blockade if the Western Allies withdrew the newly introduced Deutsche Mark from West Berlin. The Western Allies organised the Berlin airlift to carry supplies to the people of West Berlin, a difficult feat given the size of the city's population. Aircrews from the United States Air Force, the Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the South African Air Force flew over 200,000 sorties in one year, providing to the West Berliners up to 12,941 tons of necessities in a day, such as fuel and food, with the original plan being to lift 3,475 tons of supplies. However, by the end of the airlift, that number was met twofold.
The Soviets did not disrupt the airlift for fear this might lead to open conflict though they far outnumbered the allies in Germany and Berlin. By the spring of 1949, the airlift was succeeding, by April it was delivering more cargo than had been transported into the city by rail. On 12 May 1949, the USSR lifted the blockade of West Berlin, although for a time the U. S. U. K and France continued to supply the city by air anyway because they were worried that the Soviets were going to resume the blockade and were only trying to disrupt western supply lines; the Berlin Blockade served to highlight the competing ideological and economic visions for postwar Europe and was the first major multinational skirmish of the cold war. From July 17 to August 2, 1945, the victorious Allies reached the Potsdam Agreement on the fate of postwar Europe, calling for the division of defeated Germany into four temporary occupation zones; these zones were located around the then-current locations of the allied armies.
Divided into occupation zones, Berlin was located 100 miles inside Soviet-controlled eastern Germany. The United States, United Kingdom, France controlled western portions of the city, while Soviet troops controlled the eastern sector. In the eastern zone, the Soviet authorities forcibly unified the Communist Party of Germany and Social Democratic Party in the Socialist Unity Party, claiming at the time that it would not have a Marxist–Leninist or Soviet orientation; the SED leaders called for the "establishment of an anti-fascist, democratic regime, a parliamentary democratic republic" while the Soviet Military Administration suppressed all other political activities. Factories, technicians and skilled personnel were removed to the Soviet Union. In a June 1945 meeting, Stalin informed German communist leaders that he expected to undermine the British position within their occupation zone, that the United States would withdraw within a year or two and that nothing would stand in the way of a united Germany under communist control within the Soviet orbit.
Stalin and other leaders told visiting Bulgarian and Yugoslavian delegations in early 1946 that Germany must be both Soviet and communist. A further factor contributing to the Blockade was that there had never been a formal agreement guaranteeing rail and road access to Berlin through the Soviet zone. At the end of the war, western leaders had relied on Soviet goodwill to provide them with access. At that time, the western allies assumed that the Soviets' refusal to grant any cargo access other than one rail line, limited to ten trains per day, was temporary, but the Soviets refused expansion to the various additional routes that were proposed; the Soviets granted only three air corridors for access to Berlin from Hamburg, Bückeburg, Frankfurt. In 1946 the Soviets stopped delivering agricultural goods from their zone in eastern Germany, the American commander, Lucius D. Clay, responded by stopping shipments of dismantled industries from western Germany to the Soviet Union. In response, the Soviets started a public relations campaign against American policy and began to obstruct the administrative work of all four zones of occupation.
Until the blockade began in 1948, the Truman Administration had not decided whether American forces should remain in West Berlin after the establishment of a West German government, planned for 1949. Berlin became the focal point of both US and Soviet efforts to re-align Europe to their respective visions; as Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov noted, "What happens to Berlin, happens to Germany. Berlin had suffered enormous damage. After harsh treatment, forced emigration, political repression and the hard winter of 1945–1946, Germans in the Soviet-controlled zone were hostile to Soviet endeavours. Local elections in 1946 resulted in a massive anti-communist protest vote in the Soviet sector of Berlin. Berlin's citizens overwhelmingly elected non-Communist members to its city government. Meanwhile, to coordinate the economies of the British and United States occupation zones, these were combined on 1 January 1947 into what was referred to as the Bizone. After March 1946 the British zonal advisory board was established, with representatives of the states, the central offices, political parties, trade unions, consumer organisations.
As indicated by its name, the zonal advisory board had no legislative p
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in Southern Russia. Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it was the largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses; the German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing; the fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting. 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, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German 6th Army's flanks.
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 army make no attempt to break out. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food; the remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted one week and three days. By the spring of 1942, despite the failure of Operation Barbarossa to decisively defeat the Soviet Union in a single campaign, the Wehrmacht had captured vast expanses of territory, including Ukraine and the Baltic republics. Elsewhere, the war had been progressing well: the U-boat offensive in the Atlantic had been successful and Erwin Rommel had just captured Tobruk. In the east, they had stabilized their front in a line running from Leningrad in the north to Rostov in the south. There were a number of salients, but these were not threatening. Hitler was confident that he could master the Red Army after the winter of 1942, because though Army Group Centre had suffered heavy losses west of Moscow the previous winter, 65% of its infantry had not been engaged and had been rested and re-equipped.
Neither Army Group North nor Army Group South had been 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 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 industrial capacity of the city and the deployment of forces to block the Volga River. The river was the Caspian Sea to central Russia, its capture would disrupt commercial river traffic. The Germans cut the pipeline from the oilfields; the capture of Stalingrad would make the delivery of Lend Lease supplies via the Persian Corridor much more difficult. On 23 July 1942, Hitler rewrote the operational objectives for the 1942 campaign expanding them to include the occupation of the city of Stalingrad. Both sides began to attach propaganda value to the city, based on it bearing the name of the leader of the Soviet Union.
Hitler proclaimed that after Stalingrad's capture, its male citizens were to be killed and all women and children were to be deported because its population was "thoroughly communistic" and "especially dangerous". It was assumed that the fall of the city would firmly secure the northern and western flanks of the German armies as they advanced on Baku, with the aim of securing these strategic petroleum resources for Germany; the expansion of objectives was a significant factor in Germany's failure at Stalingrad, caused by German overconfidence and an underestimation of Soviet reserves. The Soviets realized, they 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; the planned summer offensive, code-named Fall Blau, was to include the German 6th, 17th, 4th Panzer and 1st Panzer Armies.
Army Group South had overrun the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1941. Poised in Eastern Ukraine, it was to spearhead the offensive. Hitler intervened, ordering the Army Group to split in two. Army Group South, under the command of Wilhelm List, was to continue advancing south towards the Caucasus as planned with the 17th Army and First Panzer Army. Army Group South, including Friedrich Paulus's 6th Army and Hermann Hoth's 4th Panzer Army, was to move east towards the Volga and Stalingrad. Army Group B was commanded by Field Marshal Fedor von Bock and by General Maximilian von Weichs; the start of Case Blue had been planned for late May 1942. However, a number of German and Romanian units that were to take part in Blau were besieging Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. Delays in ending the siege pushed back the start date for Blau several times, the city did not fall until early July. Operation Fridericus I by the Germans against the "Isium bulge", pinched off the Soviet
India known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia; the Indian subcontinent was home to the urban Indus Valley Civilisation of the 3rd millennium BCE. In the following millennium, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism began to be composed. Social stratification, based on caste, emerged in the first millennium BCE, Buddhism and Jainism arose. Early political consolidations took place under the Gupta empires. In the medieval era, Zoroastrianism and Islam arrived, Sikhism emerged, all adding to the region's diverse culture.
Much of the north fell to the Delhi Sultanate. The economy expanded in the 17th century in the Mughal Empire. In the mid-18th century, the subcontinent came under British East India Company rule, in the mid-19th under British Crown rule. A nationalist movement emerged in the late 19th century, which under Mahatma Gandhi, was noted for nonviolent resistance and led to India's independence in 1947. In 2017, the Indian economy was the world's sixth largest by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity. Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies and is considered a newly industrialised country. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption and inadequate public healthcare. A nuclear weapons state and regional power, it has the second largest standing army in the world and ranks fifth in military expenditure among nations. India is a federal republic governed under a parliamentary system and consists of 29 states and 7 union territories.
A pluralistic and multi-ethnic society, it is home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats. The name India is derived from Indus, which originates from the Old Persian word Hindush, equivalent to the Sanskrit word Sindhu, the historical local appellation for the Indus River; the ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as Indoi, which translates as "The people of the Indus". The geographical term Bharat, recognised by the Constitution of India as an official name for the country, is used by many Indian languages in its variations, it is a modernisation of the historical name Bharatavarsha, which traditionally referred to the Indian subcontinent and gained increasing currency from the mid-19th century as a native name for India. Hindustan is a Middle Persian name for India, it was introduced into India by the Mughals and used since then. Its meaning varied, referring to a region that encompassed northern India and Pakistan or India in its entirety; the name may refer to either the northern part of India or the entire country.
The earliest known human remains in South Asia date to about 30,000 years ago. Nearly contemporaneous human rock art sites have been found in many parts of the Indian subcontinent, including at the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh. After 6500 BCE, evidence for domestication of food crops and animals, construction of permanent structures, storage of agricultural surplus, appeared in Mehrgarh and other sites in what is now Balochistan; these developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, the first urban culture in South Asia, which flourished during 2500–1900 BCE in what is now Pakistan and western India. Centred around cities such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Kalibangan, relying on varied forms of subsistence, the civilization engaged robustly in crafts production and wide-ranging trade. During the period 2000–500 BCE, many regions of the subcontinent transitioned from the Chalcolithic cultures to the Iron Age ones; the Vedas, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism, were composed during this period, historians have analysed these to posit a Vedic culture in the Punjab region and the upper Gangetic Plain.
Most historians consider this period to have encompassed several waves of Indo-Aryan migration into the subcontinent from the north-west. The caste system, which created a hierarchy of priests and free peasants, but which excluded indigenous peoples by labeling their occupations impure, arose during this period. On the Deccan Plateau, archaeological evidence from this period suggests the existence of a chiefdom stage of political organisation. In South India, a progression to sedentary life is indicated by the large number of megalithic monuments dating from this period, as well as by nearby traces of agriculture, irrigation tanks, craft traditions. In the late Vedic period, around the 6th century BCE, the small states and chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies that were known as the mahajanapadas; the emerging urbanisation gave rise to non-Vedic religious movements, two of which became independent religions. Jainism came into prominence during the life of Mahavira.
Buddhism, based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, attracted followers from all social classes excepting the middle