Battle of Arbuzovka
The Battle of Arbuzovka was fought between 22 and 25 December 1942 in the valley of Arbuzovka, between Italian and German forces and Soviet forces, as part of the Battle of Stalingrad. During the Axis retreat during Operation Little Saturn, the remains of the 52nd Motorised Division Torino, retreating towards Chertkovo, became separated from the rest of the ARMIR and were encircled by the 35th Guards Rifle Division of the Red Army in the valley of Arbuzovka, 30 km east of Chertkovo, a place where the temperatures dropped to –50 °C during winter. Together with them were 6,000 men of the 298th German Infantry Division and the remains of the "3 Gennaio" Blackshirt Group under Console Antonio Galardo; the battle lasted three days, with the Italian and German forces trying to break out of the encirclement. These attempts, including several bayonet charges by the Italian units, were repelled with high casualties, the situation seemed hopeless enough that the Italian regimental commanders were ordered to burn their units' flags.
The extreme cold and hunger further worsened the situation, along with the complete exposure of the Axis forces to the Soviet fire. Some men committed suicide out of desperation. A Russian colonel was sent three times to ask for surrender; the third time the colonel was sent, German Schutzstaffels intervened during the parley and gunned down both him and the Italian negotiators. During the battle two Italian soldiers, carabineer Giuseppe Plada Mosca and flamethrower soldier Mario Iacovitti, rode their horses against the Soviet troops, waving the Italian flag; this act had the effect of stimulating the Italian soldiers, who gathered their last forces and launched another series of attacks, after fierce hand-to-hand combat and in co-operation with renewed German attacks managed to break the encirclement on 25 December. Only a small number of Italian and German soldiers, managed to reach Chertkovo on the following day. G. Scotoni, L'Armata Rossa e la disfatta italiana, Ed. Panorama 2007 E. Corti, I più non ritornano, Collezione "I rossi e Ed.
Garzanti, 1968, I edizione
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
Battle of Kalach
The Battle of Kalach took place between the German Sixth Army and elements of the Soviet Stalingrad Front between July 25 and August 11, 1942. The Soviets deployed the 62nd and 64th Armies in a Don River bridgehead west of Kalach with the intent of impeding the German advance on Stalingrad. In the initial period of the battle, the Germans attacked and managed to surround part of the 62nd Army. In reaction, the Soviets temporarily forced the Germans onto the defense. Following resupply of German forces, the roles again reversed and the Germans attacked into the flanks of the Soviet bridgehead collapsing it; the German victory positioned the Sixth Army to cross the Don River and advance on Stalingrad, which became the site of one of the most decisive battles of World War II. Following the occupation of the Crimea and the Battle of Kharkov, the Germans launched their 1942 summer offensive with the objectives of occupying the Don Basin and the Caucasus. Advancing as part of Army Group B, the German Sixth Army pushed toward the town of Kalach on the Don River as a step toward the capture of Stalingrad.
As defenders, the Soviets were reacting to German initiatives, but they knew Stalingrad was a German objective and were determined to defend the city as far forward as possible. To meet this goal, while the Soviets were withdrawing before the German offensive, they retained a bridgehead across the Don at Kalach with lines behind the Tsimla and Chir Rivers; the battlefield was the steppe country northwest of Kalach. The terrain of the battlefield is open with occasional treelines that obscure lines of sight and fire; the land rolls and exhibits small rises with an average elevation of 100 to 200 meters above sea level. Cross country vehicular movement is constricted by balkas, steep stream banks that have been cut by erosion. Between the treelines and balkas, the countryside is agricultural with occasional villages and fewer towns; the open nature of the terrain favors long-range direct fire weapons such as the long 75-mm cannon that were mounted on German Panzer IV tanks. A lack of commanding terrain and structures made observation for artillery fire challenging and rewarded the opponent who could fly aerial observation missions.
In the event, the German forces enjoyed air superiority over the Kalach battlefield with the commitment of the entire VIII Air Corps under the command of General Fiebig. German Sixth Army had ranged from north to south the VIII, XIV Panzer, LI, XXIV Panzer Corps, commanding some 270,000 men, over 500 tanks, 3,000 guns and mortars; the German forces had superior battle experience and excellent gunnery skills. Their movement and attacks enjoyed air support, but the Sixth Army had temporarily outrun its supplies in the cases of fuel and ammunition. Soviet opposition in the Don bend was still weak. 62nd Army had 6 rifle divisions, a tank brigade, 6 independent tank battalions on its half of the line, 64th Army had 2 rifle divisions and a tank brigade. To the north of the 62nd Army was the 63rd Army; the force committed by the Soviets to defend in front of Kalach included 160,000 men, some 400 tanks, 2,200 guns and mortars, but suffered from serious shortages of anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns. Rifle divisions of the Stalingrad Front were in a perilous state, with over half of them understrength, ranging in strength between 300 and 4,000 men.
Between the Volga and the Don, 57th Army was being reformed as the front reserve and the Headquarters, 38th and 28th Armies, together with those of their troops that had survived earlier battles, were being used as cadres for building the 1st and 4th Tank Armies. The tank armies would be committed before their organization was complete and without the cohesion enjoyed by more experienced and better trained formations; the Soviet forces in the Kalach Bridgehead were subordinated to the Stalingrad Front under the command of General-Lieutenant Vasiliy N. Gordov. After a ten-day hiatus caused by a lack of transportation, German Sixth Army returned to the offensive. On 23 July, Paulus submitted his plan to take Stalingrad, he proposed to sweep to the Don on both sides of Kalach, take bridgeheads on the run, drive a wedge of armor flanked by infantry across the remaining thirty miles. On 23 July the German main body started its advance toward the Don River; the Germans now met with increasing Soviet resistance from the 62nd and 64th Armies of the newly formed Stalingrad Front.
German Sixth Army had been running into and over 62nd and 64th Armies' outposts since 17 July without knowing it. On the 23rd, Sixth Army hit the Soviet main line east of the Chir River; the VIII Corps, on the north, encountered several Soviet rifle divisions in the morning, those delayed its march east four or five hours. The XIV Panzer Corps, bearing in toward Kalach, reported 200 enemy tanks in its path and claimed to have knocked out 40 during the day; the German advance of 23 July caved in part of the 62nd Army's front and encircled two rifle divisions and a tank brigade of the army. On the 24th, VIII Corps cleared the northern quarter of the Don bend except for a Soviet bridgehead at Serafimovich and another around Kremenskaya and Sirotinskaya. To the south, as the daily report put it, Sixth Army "consolidated," because XIV Panzer Corps ran out of motor fuel and the infantry could not make headway against stiffening resistance north and east of Kalach. General Major K. S. Moskalenko, who had taken command of 1st Tank Army three days before, began the counterattack on 25 July, with General Vasilevsky present as Stavka representative.
The 1st Tank Army was given the mission of pushing to the northwest, relieving the encirclement of the 62nd Army fo
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.
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established after the 1917 October Revolution; the Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; the Red Army provided the largest land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II, its invasion of Manchuria assisted the unconditional surrender of Imperial Japan. During operations on the Eastern Front, it accounted for 75–80% of casualties the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS suffered during the war and captured the Nazi German capital, Berlin. In September 1917, Vladimir Lenin wrote: "There is only one way to prevent the restoration of the police, and, to create a people's militia and to fuse it with the army."
At the time, the Imperial Russian Army had started to collapse. 23% of the male population of the Russian Empire were mobilized. The Tsarist general Nikolay Dukhonin estimated that there had been 2 million deserters, 1.8 million dead, 5 million wounded and 2 million prisoners. He estimated the remaining troops as numbering 10 million. While the Imperial Russian Army was being taken apart, "it became apparent that the rag-tag Red Guard units and elements of the imperial army who had gone over the side of the Bolsheviks were quite inadequate to the task of defending the new government against external foes." Therefore, the Council of People's Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918. They envisioned a body "formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes." All citizens of the Russian republic aged 18 or older were eligible. Its role being the defense "of the Soviet authority, the creation of a basis for the transformation of the standing army into a force deriving its strength from a nation in arms, furthermore, the creation of a basis for the support of the coming Socialist Revolution in Europe."
Enlistment was conditional upon "guarantees being given by a military or civil committee functioning within the territory of the Soviet Power, or by party or trade union committees or, in extreme cases, by two persons belonging to one of the above organizations." In the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a "collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members would be necessary." Because the Red Army was composed of peasants, the families of those who served were guaranteed rations and assistance with farm work. Some peasants who remained at home yearned to join the Army. If they were turned away they would prepare care-packages. In some cases the money they earned would go towards tanks for the Army; the Council of People's Commissars appointed itself the supreme head of the Red Army, delegating command and administration of the army to the Commissariat for Military Affairs and the Special All-Russian College within this commissariat. Nikolai Krylenko was the supreme commander-in-chief, with Aleksandr Myasnikyan as deputy.
Nikolai Podvoisky became the commissar for Pavel Dybenko, commissar for the fleet. Proshyan, Steinberg were specified as people's commissars as well as Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich from the Bureau of Commissars. At a joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, held on 22 February 1918, Krylenko remarked: "We have no army; the demoralized soldiers are fleeing, panic-stricken, as soon as they see a German helmet appear on the horizon, abandoning their artillery and all war material to the triumphantly advancing enemy. The Red Guard units are brushed aside like flies. We have no power to stay the enemy; the Russian Civil War occurred in three periods: October 1917 – November 1918: From the Bolshevik Revolution to the First World War Armistice, developed from the Bolshevik government's nationalization of traditional Cossack lands in November 1917. This provoked the insurrection of General Alexey Maximovich Kaledin's Volunteer Army in the River Don region; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk aggravated Russian internal politics.
The situation encouraged direct Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, in which twelve foreign countries supported anti-Bolshevik militias. A series of engagements resulted, amongst others, the Czechoslovak Legion, the Polish 5th Rifle Division, the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian Riflemen. January 1919 – November 1919: Initially the White armies advanced: from the south, under General Anton Denikin; the Whites defeated the Red Army on each front. Leon Trotsky reformed and counterattacked: the Red Army repelled Admiral Kolchak's army in June, the armies of General Denikin and General Yudenich in October. By mid-Nove
Operation Little Saturn
Operation Saturn, revised as Operation Little Saturn, was a Red Army operation on the Eastern Front of World War II that led to battles in the North Caucasus and Donets Basin regions of the Soviet Union from December 1942 to February 1943. The success of Operation Uranus, launched on 19 November 1942, had trapped 250,000–300,000 troops of General Friedrich Paulus' German 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army in Stalingrad. To exploit this victory, the Soviet general staff planned a winter campaign of continuous and ambitious offensive operations, codenamed "Saturn". Joseph Stalin reduced his ambitious plans to a small campaign codenamed "Operation Little Saturn"; the offensive succeeded in smashing Germany's Italian and Hungarian allies, applied pressure on the over stretched German forces in Eastern Ukraine and prevented further German advances to the relief of the entrapped forces at Stalingrad. Despite these victories, the Soviets themselves became over extended, setting up the stages for the German offensives of the Third Battle of Kharkov and the Battle of Kursk.
On 17 May 1942, German Army Groups A and B launched a counteroffensive against advancing Soviet armies around the city of Kharkov, resulting in the Second Battle of Kharkov. By 6 July, General Hermann Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army had taken the city of Voronezh, threatening to collapse the Red Army's resistance. By early August, General Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist's First Panzer Army had reached the oil center of Maykop, 500 kilometres south of the city of Rostov, taken by the Fourth Panzer Army on 23 July; the rapid German advance threatened to cut the Soviet Union off from its southern territories, while threatening to cut the lend-lease supply lines from Persia. However, the offensive began to peter out, as the offensive's supply train struggled to keep up with the advance and spearhead units began to run low on fuel and manpower. Operation Uranus was the codename of the Soviet strategic operation in World War II which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army and Fourth Romanian armies, portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army.
The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. Planning for Operation Uranus had commenced as early as September 1942, was developed with plans to envelop and destroy German Army Group Center and German forces in the Caucasus; the Red Army took advantage of the fact that German forces in the southern Soviet Union were overstretched around Stalingrad, using weaker Romanian armies to guard their flanks. These Axis armies were deployed in open positions on the steppe and lacked heavy equipment to deal with Soviet armor. Operation Winter Storm, undertaken between 12–23 December 1942, was the German Fourth Panzer Army's attempt to relieve encircled Axis forces during the Battle of Stalingrad. In late November, the Red Army completed Operation Uranus, which resulted in the encirclement of Axis personnel in and around the city of Stalingrad. German forces within the Stalingrad Pocket and directly outside were reorganized under Army Group Don, under the command of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein.
As the Red Army continued to build strength, in an effort to allocate as many resources as possible to the eventual launch of the planned Operation Saturn, which aimed to isolate Army Group A from the rest of the German Army, the Luftwaffe had begun an attempt to supply German forces in Stalingrad through an air bridge. However, as the Luftwaffe proved incapable of carrying out its mission and it became more obvious that a successful breakout could only occur if it was launched as early as possible, Manstein decided to plan and launch a dedicated relief effort. After the defeat of the Romanian Army around Stalingrad and the successful encirclement of the German Sixth Army, Stalin started a counter-offensive nicknamed "Operation Little Saturn" in order to enlarge the area controlled by the Soviet Army in eastern Ukraine until Kharkov and Rostov. Zhukov states the South-Western Front was assigned a mission in which the 1st and 3rd Guard armies and the 5th Tank Army "were to strike out in the general direction of Morozovsk and destroy the enemy grouping in that sector."
They would be supported by the 6th Army of the Voronezh Front. The first stage — an attempt to cut off the German Army Group A in the Caucasus — had to be revised when General Erich von Manstein launched Operation Winter Storm on 12 December in an attempt to relieve the trapped armies at Stalingrad. While General Rodion Malinovsky's Soviet 2nd Guards Army blocked the German advance on Stalingrad, the modified plan Operation Little Saturn was launched on 16 December; this operation consisted of a pincer movement. General Fyodor Isidorovich Kuznetsov's 1st Guards Army and General Dmitri Danilovich Lelyushenko's 3rd Guards Army attacked from the north, encircling 130,000 soldiers of the Italian 8th Army on the Don and advancing to Millerovo; the Italians resisted the Soviet attack for nearly two weeks, although outnumbered 9 to 1 in some sectors, but with huge losses. Manstein sent the 6th Panzer Division to the Italians' aid: of the 130,000 encircled troops, only 45,000 survived after bloody fighting to join the Panzers at Chertkovo on 17 January.
To the south the advance of General Gerasimenko's 28th Army threatened to encircle the 1st Panzer Army and General Trufanov's 51st Army attacked the relief column directly. In a dar
Kharkiv known as Kharkov, is the second-largest city in Ukraine. In the northeast of the country, it is the largest city of the Slobozhanshchyna historical region. Kharkiv is the administrative centre of Kharkiv Oblast and of the surrounding Kharkiv Raion, though administratively it is incorporated as a city of oblast significance and does not belong to the raion. Population: 1,439,036 The city was founded in 1654 and after a humble beginning as a small fortress grew to be a major centre of Ukrainian industry and culture in the Russian Empire. Kharkiv was the first capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, from December 1919 to January 1934, after which the capital relocated to Kiev. Presently, Kharkiv is a major cultural, educational and industrial centre of Ukraine, with 6 museums, 7 theatres and 80 libraries, its industry specializes in machinery and in electronics. There are hundreds of industrial companies in the city, including the Morozov Design Bureau and the Malyshev Tank Factory.
Some sources offer that the city was named after Kharko. Among other names there are Charkow, Zakharpolis. Cultural artifacts date back to the Bronze Age, as well as those of Scythian and Sarmatian settlers. There is evidence that the Chernyakhov culture flourished in the area from the second to the sixth centuries; the city was founded by re-settlers who were running away from the war that engulfed Right-bank Ukraine in 1654. The years before the region was a sparsely populated part of the Cossack Hetmanate; the group of people came onto the banks of Lopan and Kharkiv rivers where an abandoned settlement stood. According to archive documents, the leader of the re-settlers was otaman Ivan Kryvoshlyk. At first the settlement was self-governed under the jurisdiction of a voivode from Chuhuiv, 40 kilometres to the east; the first appointed voivode from Moscow was Voyin Selifontov in 1656 who started to build a local ostrog. At that time the population of Kharkiv was just over 1000, half of whom were local cossacks, while Selifontov brought along a Moscow garrison of another 70 servicemen.
The first Kharkiv voivode was replaced in two years after complaining that locals refused to cooperate in building the fort. Kharkiv became the centre of the local Sloboda cossack regiment as the area surrounding the Belgorod fortress was being militarized. With the resettlement of the area by Ukrainians it came to be known as Sloboda Ukraine, most of, included under the jurisdiction of the Razryad Prikaz headed by a district official from Belgorod. By 1657 the Kharkiv settlement had a fortress with underground passageways. In 1658 Ivan Ofrosimov was appointed as the new voivode, who worked on forcing locals to kiss the cross to show loyalty to the Moscow tsar; the locals led by their otaman. However, with the election of the new otaman Tymish Lavrynov the community sent a request to the tsar to establish a local Assumption market, signed by deans of Kharkiv churches. Relationships with the neighboring Chuhuiv sometimes were non-friendly and their arguments were pacified by force. With the appointment of the third voivode Vasiliy Sukhotin was finished the construction of the city fort.
Meanwhile, Kharkiv had become the centre of Sloboda Ukraine. The Kharkiv Fortress was erected around the Assumption Cathedral and its castle was at University Hill, it was between today's streets: vulytsia Kvitky-Osnovianenko, Constitution Square, Rose Luxemburg Square, Proletarian Square, Cathedral Descent. The fortress had 10 towers: Chuhuivska Tower, Moskovska Tower, Vestovska Tower, Tainytska Tower, Lopanska Corner Tower, Kharkivska Corner Tower and others; the tallest was Vestovska, some 16 metres tall, while the shortest one was Tainytska which had a secret well 35 metres deep. The fortress had the Lopanski Gates. In 1689 the fortress was expanded and included the Saint-Pokrov Cathedral and Monastery, baptized and became the center of local eparchy. Coincidentally in the same year in the vicinity of Kharkiv in Kolomak, Ivan Mazepa was announced the Hetman of Ukraine. Next to the Saint-Pokrov Cathedral was located the Kharkiv Collegiate, transferred from Belgorod to Kharkiv in 1726. In the course of the administrative reform carried out in 1708 by Peter the Great, the area was included into Kiev Governorate.
Kharkiv is mentioned as one of the towns making a part of the governorate. In 1727, Belgorod Governorate was split off, Kharkiv moved to Belgorod Governorate, it was the center of Kharkiv Sloboda Cossack regiment. The regiment at some point was detached from Belgorod Governorate attached to it again, until in 1765, Sloboda Ukraine Governorate was established with the seat in Kharkiv. Kharkiv University was established in 1805 in the Palace of Governorate-General. Alexander Mikolajewicz Mickiewicz, brother of Adam Mickiewicz was a professor of law in the university, another celebrity Goethe searched for instructors for the school. In 1906 Ivan Franko received a doctorate in Russian linguistics here; the streets were first cobbled in the city centre in 1830. In 1844 the 90 m