The Red Army achieves a breakthrough at Rzhev.
The Red Army captures Kaluga to the southwest of Moscow.
German forces in the Crimea repulse a Soviet landing at Eupatoria.
In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Minister denounces German atrocities in occupied Russia, where in Kiev alone 52,000 people have been massacred. ‘The Soviet Union will never forget or forgive’.
The Soviet North West Front begins an offensive south of Lake Ilmen in an attempt to encircle Demyansk. At the same time the newly created Volkhov Front launches an attack to force the Germans back from around Leningrad.
Field Marshal von Leeb, C-in-C of Army Group North, requests permission to withdraw his forces south of Lake Ilmen behind the river Lovat, as the 2nd Corps at Demyansk is in serious danger of being cut off. Hitler refuses von Leebs request who resigns in protest. His place as C-in-C of Army Group North is taken up by Field Marshal von Kuechler.
Army Group Centre evacuates the Kaluga sector and takes up winter positions 20 miles to the West.
The Red Army cuts the main supply route for the German 2nd and 10th Corps at Demyansk near Lake Ilmen, forcing the Luftwaffe to begin flying in supplies. Field Marshal von Bock takes over command of Army Group South from Field Marshal von Reichenau who died of a heart attack. The Soviet South West Front launches an offensive across the river Donets, to the South of Kharkov in an attempt to cut of all German forces north of the Sea of Azov. German troops of 11th Army recapture Feodosiya and seal off the Soviet bridgehead at Kerch in the Crimea.
German troops of Army Group Centre, recapture Sukhinichi near Kaluga.
Timoshenko’s offensive in the Ukraine slows down after a 60-mile thrust.
The Red Army begins an offensive toward Vyazma. Zhukov is promoted to command the West Theatre, which includes the Kalinin, West and Bryansk Fronts.
German forces of Army Group Centre launch a counterattack at Vyazma, cutting off and encircling several Red Army divisions.
The Soviet North West Front finally cut all land communication for 90,000 troops of the German 2nd and 10th Corps at Demyansk, as the 11th and 1st Shock Armies link up on the river Lovat, about 25 miles to the west of Demyansk.
The Russians advance in to White Russia, but meet strong German resistance.
The Soviet Union introduces universal labour conscription.
The Red Army launches an major attack against Army Group B from the Kerch peninsula in the eastern Crimea.
An offensive by Army Group North cuts off the Soviet 2nd Shock Army, commanded by General Vlasov, in a salient between Novgorod and Gruzino. Operation 'Munich' is launched. Joined by a new air detachment, German troops attack partisan bases around Yelnya and Dorogobuzh. Operation 'Bamberg' kicks off near Bobruisk, with SS Police troops attacking Russian villages. The German security forces burn many villages and kill 3,500 people, which only infuriate the Russian civilians more, which encourages many of them join the partisans, making the whole exercise very counter-productive. The 3rd Panzer Army diaries says "There are indications that the partisan movement in the region of Velikiye Luki, Vitebsk, Rudnya, Velizh, is now being organised on a large scale. The fighting strength of the partisans hitherto active, is being bolstered by individual units of regular red army troops."
The Red Army offensive at Kerch in the Crimea is defeated with heavy losses to the Russians.
A Polish newspaper editor is beheaded for listening to the BBC, as German terror continues in Poland.
Fuhrer Directive 41 rolls off the mimeograph machines in Rastenberg and the Wehrmacht has its marching orders for 1942. Leningrad is to finally be captured, but that's a secondary objective. The big plan is in the South, which involves 2nd Army and 4th Panzer Army breaking through to Voronezh on the Don. 6th Army will break out South of Kharkov and combine with the 4th Panzer Army to surround the enemy. After that, the 4th Panzer Army and 6th Army will drive East under the command of Army Group B and surround Stalingrad from the North, while Army Group A's 17th Army and 1st Panzer Army will do so from the South. Once Stalingrad is taken, the 6th Army will hold the flank defense line while Army Group A drives South into the Caucasus to seize the oilfields and become the northern punch of a grand pincer movement (the southern half being Rommel) to seize Suez, the Nile Delta, the Middle-East and its oilfields.
The Germans make some limited advances towards their surrounded units at Kholm-Staraya Russa. Russian troops attack furiously at Kerch in the Crimea, but there have no success because of the stubborn German defense.
Progress continues as German relieve forces push nearer the surrounded Kholm garrison. The Russians try to land troops near Eupatoria in the Crimea, but are stopped dead by the Germans.
Both German and Russian forces pause for breath after an extremely difficult winter (temperatures dropped to a nippy Minus 30C). The Russians have outrun their supply lines and exhausted their supply store of tanks and guns, which has allowed the initiative to slip back to the Germans. However, the Germans are aware that they can no longer take Moscow with a knockout blow and so choose another alternative. They intend to drive southward as part of a "grand pincer" movement through the Caucasus to link up with Rommel's Afrika Corps, which will solve their oil problems, disable the Russian economy, and menace the Middle East.
Adolf Hitler plans the German summer offensive, but the first priority is to remove the Barvenkovo salient in the Ukraine, which is gives the Russian a springboard to retake Kharkov, or turn South and retake the Ukraine. General Friedrich Paulus, a tall, ascetic Prussian staff officer, draws up the plans for an panzer offensive to pinch out this salient. Amazingly, the Russian are simultaneously planning their own offensive out of the salient.
The Russian plan to hit the Germans with a powerful force of 640,000 men, 1,200 tanks, and 900 aircraft in the Kharkov area, while the Germans plan to hit the Russians with 636,000 men, 1,000 tanks, and 1,220 aircraft.
Heavy fighting also continues on the front around besieged Leningrad whose inhabitants are suffering from bombing, disease and starvation. The siege of the Crimean fortress of Sevastopol by the 11th Army continues with a ceaseless bombardment by batteries of heavy guns (up to 800mm) and hundreds of bombers (up to 1,000 sorties a day) of Luftflotte 7.
The German 11th Army begins its summer offensive in order to clear the Eastern Crimea. The 11th Army has thirteen Infantry, one Panzer, and one Cavalry division. Luftwaffe support is provided by Fliegerkorps 8 and naval support comes from German E-boats and Italian midget submarines, which attack Russian supply ships reinforcing Sevastopol. The Germans hit Gen. D.T. Kozlov's Crimean Front along Feodosiya Bay and crash through the 44th Army's two divisions, relying on Junkers 87 Stukas to do the damage.
Winston Churchill warns that Britain will use poison gas on Germany if the Germans do so on the Soviet Union. The battle for Sevastopol rumbles on, with the Russian Coastal Army fielding 106,000 men, 600 guns, 100 mortars, 38 tanks, and 55 planes. The Germans hurl 204,000 men, 670 guns, 450 mortars, 720 tanks, and 600 aircraft at Sevastopol. The Germans also move in 19 motor torpedo boats, 30 patrol boats, eight ASW boats, and a unit of 150 bombers trained in anti-shipping operations. German artillery ranges from 76mm field guns to mammoth 800-mm railway-mounted super-heavy siege mortars.
German troops continue their attack at Sevastopol, surrounding some defenders at Ak-Monay. The Luftwaffe is making about 1,800 sorties per day.
Timoshenko’s offensive grinds forward into Army Group South with two pincer attacks, one Northwest out of the Izyum bulge by the 6th Red Army and the other West then Southwest by the 28th Red Army from the Volchansk area, designed to converge west of Kharkov. The Red Army falls back towards Kerch in the Crimea.
The siege of Leningrad continues. Tanya Savicheva, a young girl, writes in her address book, "Mummy 13th May at 7.30 morning 1942. The Savichevs are dead, all dead, only Tanya remains." Her book also lists the death of her brothers, grandmother, and two uncles. Evacuated to Gorky on the Volga, Tanya herself dies of chronic dysentery in the summer of 1943.
Kerch is captured by German troops, forcing the Russians to evacuate their troops across the straits in extremely difficult conditions and under heavy fire. For five days, Russian ships shuttle back and forth, finally pulling out 86,000 men, including 23,000 wounded.
The Russians continue to evacuate their forces across the Kerch Straits, leaving behind vast amounts of artillery and heavy equipment, which the Germans then turn upon the besieged fort of Sevastopol.
German forces finally halt the Russian summer offensive just short of Kharkov and let loose Group von Kleist’s with a strength of 15 Divisions (1st Panzer Army and 17th Army), of which two are Panzer and one Motorised. The Germans aim for Izyum to the South of Kharkov in order to pinch off the Russian salient. The Germans attack with their usual skill, technology, and ferocity and drive through the Russian defenses. The Germans have a 4.4-1 edge in tanks, 1.7-1 edge in artillery, and 1.3-1 edge in infantry on the battlefield. Russian co-ordination is poor and the Germans quickly gain local air superiority. Russian officers lack adequate combat experience to handle the fast pace of the German blitzkrieg, and their divisions literally come apart.
A busy day for Soviet partisans, who blast railway tracks between Bryansk and Roslavl at five points. Hungarian security troops move in to fight the partisans and do so by killing everyone in the local villages. An irritated Josef Goebbels diaries "In consequence, we can hardly get any agricultural work done in such regions. The German 6th Army launches an offensive to the North of the Russian salient in order to link hands with Kleist’s Panzer’s who have ripped a 50 mile gap through the Red Army’s flank. With the Germans cutting off the Russian Barvenkovo offensive from their rear, the Russian cancel their offensive, do a fast U-turn and try to fight their way out of the pocket and back to safety. Unfortunately, the attack is badly organised and uncoordinated.
The Crimea is finally cleared of the Red Army. 170,000 Russians taken prisoner. Manstein's gaze now turns fully towards Sevastopol.
The 6th Army and Kleist's Panzer’s meets thereby pinching of the Russian salient Southeast of Kharkov.
The Germans decide they've had quite enough of the partisan harassment in Russia and launch operation 'Hanover', to clear the Bryansk-Vyazma railway. For six days, 45,000 German troops, including panzer and SS-police units, search for an estimated 20,000 partisans, catching or killing many of them. In the Barvenkovo salient, General Ewald von Kleist's Panzer's start to chop up the Russian 6th and 9th Armies. Moscow admits the loss of 5,000 dead, 70,000 missing, and 300 tanks destroyed, but the Germans claim 24,000 POW's and 1,200 tanks.
The Soviet Union and Great Britain sign a 20-year treaty of alliance, to avert all chance of a confrontation between Communism and the western democracies. Both nations agree not to negotiate or conclude any armistice with Germany or her allies "except by mutual consent."
The siege of Sevastopol rages on, becoming the only incident of a formal siege of a modern fortress being pushed through to final reduction. Sevastopol is the premier port on the Black Sea, and its defenses include three zones of trenches, pillboxes, and batteries. The strongest defenses lie in the middle zone, which includes the heights and the south bank of the Belbek River. Among these hills are "Fort Stalin" on the East and the massive western anchor of "Fort Maxim Gorki I," with its turret of twin 305 mm (12-inch) guns sweeping the length of the Belbek valley. 105,000 men defend this port. Against this the Germans and Romanians range 203,000 men and some of the most powerful siege artillery ever disposed by any army in World War II. Field Marshal Erich von Manstein aims 305 mm, 350 mm, and 420 mm howitzers at the Russians, along with two of the new, stubby "Karl" and "Thor" 600 mm mortars. Also on hand is the 800 mm (31.5-inch) "Big Dora" from Krupp, which has to be transported to position by 60 railway wagons. "Big Dora" is commanded by a major general and a colonel, protected by two flak regiments and periodically fed with a 10,500 lb. shell. Czech patriots shoot Reinhard Heydrich in the suburbs of Prague. His condition is described as critical.
The Russian pocket Southeast of Kharkov continues to be broken in. 200 Poles are taken from Warsaw to the village of Magdalenka and shot. Among them are three women brought on stretchers from Pawiak prison hospital.
'Fridericus I' is completed as the Russian pocket to the Southeast of Kharkov is finally wiped out and 214,000 Russians captured, along with 1,200 tanks and 2,000 guns destroyed. German casualties in the fighting around Kharkov amount to some 20,000.
Hitler arrives at Poltava, the HQ of Army Group South to approve Field Marshal von Bocks plan for the main offensive. A high level plan had been prepared to make the Russians believe that Moscow was still the objective, Goebbels organised leaks to this effect to the foreign press while Army Group Centre made overt preparations for an offensive under the cover-name of 'Kremlin'. The siege of Sevastopol by the 11th Army continues with a round-the-clock bombardment by heavy artillery and Luftwaffe bombers.
The Germans begin a five day bombardment, using all the artillery at their disposal, including super heavy siege artillery, against Sevastopol in order to soften up the defences ready for the main assault.
Reinhard Heydrich dies of his wounds.
Operation 'Birdsong' kicks off between Roslavl and Bryansk, as 5,000 German troops pursue 2,500 partisans. In four weeks, 1,198 partisans are killed, for the loss of 58 German dead. Even so, the Germans are not happy as "The partisans," a German officer reports, "continued their old tactic of evading, withdrawing into the forests, or moving in larger groups into the areas South and Southwest of the Roslavl-Bryansk highway and into the Kletnya area." Although no further partisan attacks are reported in the area, "mines continued to be planted" and several German vehicles damaged.
General Erich von Manstein hurls his troops in the grand assault on the besieged port of Sevastopol in a two-pronged assault. The Soviets resist fanatically in excellent fortifications. The Germans gain ground but take heavy casualties, and have to bring in reinforcements to take the city. However, the continuous German attacks wear down the defenders ammunition supplies, which must be brought in by sea through a tight German blockade maintained by the Luftwaffe, E-boats, and Italian midget submarines.
Fifteen Poles, including 12 women are publicly hanged in Posen. The bodies left hanging for 48 hours as a warning.
Heydrich lies in state in Berlin. Himmler calls him, ‘a noble, honest and decent human being’.
Another German offensive in the East begins as two German armies of 33 division, five of them Panzer, attack from Kharkov on the Volchansk Front, a massive assault that will roll on until the 26th, scattering the Russian forces ahead of them. Prague radio announces the extermination of Lidice, a village of about 2,000. All the men were shot and women sent to concentration camps. All buildings are razed to the ground as a reprisal for Heydrich killing.
German troops of the 16th Regiment of the 22nd Airlanding Division take Fort Stalin in Sevastopol.
German troops seize Fort Maxim Gorky in Sevastopol, digging out Russian naval infantry (in their black Sailor hats) with flame-throwers. Germans announce the killing of Heydrich’s assassins, just two hours after ultimatum demanding information expired.
Plans for the offensive in to the Caucasus are captured by the Russians when a staff officer from the 23rd Panzer Division is shot down. Against all order, he was carrying the plans on his person. 40th Panzer Corps commander, General Stumme and his chief of staff are immediately sacked and imprisoned on Hitlers express orders. No changes were made to the plan as although the Russians considered them authentic, they believed that it was only a subsidiary thrust and that the main objective was still Moscow, which suited the Germans.
Fort Lenin in Sevastopol falls to the Germans.
German infantry and combat engineers of 11th Army are gaining ground slowly in their assault on Sevastopol, but the ferocious Russian defense at Sevastopol forces Adolf Hitler to do something he doesn't like to do, namely delay the German Summer offensive.
The Russians withdraw to the South side of Sevastopol's bay, preserving their front, as the bombardment and German attacks increase.
German troops drive a wedge into Sevastopol's defenses. The Russians are running out of men, space and time. Surviving fighter aircraft are sent to the Caucasus, conceding the skies to the Luftwaffe. Soon the Russian AA guns are out of ammunition and the defenders face Stukas with rifles and machine guns. Artillery shells are running low too.
German troops capture Kupyansk over the river Oskel, for use as a launch pad for their summer offensive. At Rastenberg, Adolf Hitler decorates SS General Eicke, Commanding Officer of the SS Totenkopf Division, with the Oak Leaves for the Knight's Cross, for his Divisions bravery in holding out in the Demyansk pocket the previous winter. Eleven of Eicke's officers and men also receive the Knight's Cross. After the ceremony, Hitler and Eicke chat and Eicke tells the Fuhrer that his Division is pretty well worn out, short of vehicles and wishes it to be transferred to France. Instead, Hitler gives Eicke home leave.
Low clouds cover the skies over the Ukraine, providing a suitably ominous overture to Operation 'Blau', the German summer offensive. Field Marshal Fedor von Bock ("The Preacher of Death") hurls three armies and 11 Panzer divisions East in a massive assault whose objective is nothing short of the Caucasus mountains and oilfields. In classic blitzkrieg style, the Germans fan out across open steppe and grassland, crushing the 40th Army, folding the 13th Army northward and disintegrating the reeling 21st and 28th Armies. Russian troop command crumbles under the drive. Russian logistics, exhausted by the Moscow counteroffensive, cannot keep up with the demand. A German sergeant tells Propaganda Kompanie men "It's quite different from last year, it's more like Poland. The Russians aren't nearly so thick on the ground. They fire their guns like madmen, but they don't hurt us!". That evening, in Sevastopol, German troops cross North Bay under a smoke screen and seize the southern shore, capturing Inkerman in the process.
The drive on the Caucasus roars on as German columns kick up dust clouds that can be seen 40 miles away and leave behind burning villages and town. "It is the formation of the Roman Legions, now brought up to date in the 20th century to tame the Mongol-Slav horde," exults German propaganda. In Sevastopol, German troops attack from their bridgehead, while more forces blast in across the Fedyukhin Heights, forcing the Russians back.
As the Panzer's roll eastward in Russia, they haul in hordes of Russian POW's. With five German armies (two panzer), two Romanian, one Italian (including a number of mountain divisions) and one Hungarian Army in the van, all tolled 89 divisions on the offensive. While the Panzer's are fully motorised, the bulk of the remaining forces depend on horses for transport and supply. As the advance lengthens, so do the supply lines, and shortages soon begin to appear at the sharp end. The Russian garrison at Sevastopol begins to evacuate itself by night. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, telegraphs his troops, "In line with the prestige and dignity of the German Army, every German soldier must maintain distance and such an attitude with regard to Russian POW's as takes account of the bitterness and inhuman brutality of the Russians in battle." Prestige and dignity will be maintained, Keitel continues, as follows "Fleeing prisoners of war are to be shot without preliminary warning to stop. All resistance of POW's, even passive, must be entirely eliminated immediately by the use of arms." Russian POW's are placed into camps where the dead lie undisturbed for weeks on end. German guards periodically enter the camps to get rid of bodies with flame-throwers.
A number of Red Army formations are encircled as Hoth's 4th Panzer Army and von Weich's 2nd Army link up near Starry Oskol. However, most those trapped manage to filter through German lines and escape across the river Don.
Sevastopol, the Crimean capital, finally falls to Germans, along with 97,000 Soviet prisoners. The German and Romanian forces lost 24,000 men.
The Germans claim to have pushed the Russians back across the Don along a broad front.
Advanced units of 4th Panzer Army reach the Don north and south of Voronezh, which causes the Russians to begin its evacuation.
4th Panzer Army enters Voronezh, 150 miles to the east of Kursk. Army Group A begins its offensive in to the Donets Basin. The STAVKA (Red Army High Command) creates the Voronezh Front under General Rokossovsky and is to cover the widening gap between the Bryansk and South-West Fronts.
The 4th Panzer Army at Voronezh begins an offensive southeast along the west bank of the Don, with the aim of meeting up with 6th Army which is advancing East toward the Don from Kharkov. The objective is to establish bridgeheads across the river in the Kalach area and then continue on to Stalingrad. However, heavy rain and lack of fuel slowed the advance, allowing the Russians time to withdraw their armies intact. Army Group A's, 1st Panzer Army crosses the Donet's river.
Germans admit substantial Russian forces are east of the Don. Panzer units of 4th Panzer Army and 6th Army of Army Group B join up just North of Kalach on the Don, while 17th Army and 1st Panzer Army of Army Group A continue their advance toward Rostov.
Troops of Army Group North complete the reduction of the Volkhov pocket, taking 30,000 Soviet prisoners, including General Vlasov, CO of the Second Guards Army and later to become C-in-C of the anti-Bolshevik Russian Liberation Army. The STAVKA establishes the Stalingrad Front under Marshal Timoshenko, from the remnants of the South-West front.
Hitler switches forces from Army Group B's drive against Stalingrad, to Army Group A in the Donets Basin, as he was convinced that strong Russian forces were still west of the river Don and was determined to trap them in the Rostov area. This move reduced Army Group B to that of flank protection for Army Group A.
The advance by Army Group A towards Rostov continues against minimal Soviet resistance.
The Germans take Boguchar and Millerovo, less than 200 miles from Stalingrad. However, they have only captured 80,000 Russian's since the 28th June.
Hitler changes his mind and orders Army Group B to resume its offensive towards Stalingrad. However, as almost all the German Army had be transferred to Army Group A, the advance was left to Paulus's 6th Army which had been reinforced by a panzer and an infantry Corps. The remaining panzers with Army Group A were ordered to thrust south over the lower Don on a broad front.
The Russians recapture the bridgehead at Voronezh on the Don.
Hitler, dissatisfied by what he viewed as von Bocks tardiness since the beginning of the summer offensive, dismisses him from command of Army Group B, dissolves his command HQ and gives command of Army Group B to von Weichs. Hitler also issues Directive No.45 for Operation 'Brunswick', the capture of the Caucasus. Army Group A, once having destroyed the enemy in the Rostov area, was to secure the entire eastern coastline of the Black Sea, simultaneously capturing Maikop and Grozny and the advance to Baku. Army Group B would continue east to seize Stalingrad and the advance down the Volga to Astrakhan. This meant that the two would advance on diverging axes and a large gap would develop between them. This was aggravated by the return of Hoth's 4th Panzer Army to Army Group B. Marshal Timoshenko is removed from command of the Stalingrad Front and replaced by General Gordov.
Rostov-on-Don is captured by the 1st Panzer Army, thus clearing the way for the advance of Army Group A toward the Caucasus and Kuban region. Large numbers of Russian troops are liquidated in and around Rostov after German troops have secured the city.
Army Group A brakes out of its bridgeheads on the lower Don, along with the 4th Panzer Army which holds the eastern most of these. Army Group A drives south, whilst 4th Panzer Army attacks east and then north-east to link up with the rest of Army Group B as its advances towards Stalingrad. The South Front under General Malinovsky is being quickly shattered and the remnants are absorbed in to the North Caucasus Front, which is commanded by Marshal Budenny. Despite the lack of supplies are intense heat, the Germans make rapid progress. Further north, the 6th Army attempts to bounce its way across the river Don, but is initially repulsed and so waits for the 4th Panzer Army to arrive.
German troops take Bataysk, and 6th Army launches an attack to destroy the soviet bridgehead west at Kalach.
The effect of the fall of Rostov spreads panic and terror in the Soviet Union, prompting harsh counter-measures by the Soviet High Command.
German troops take Proletarskaya and establish a bridgehead over the Manych River in the Caucasus region.
The Red Army launches a counter-offensive at Rzhev, which leads to the temporary encirclement of six German divisions, although these are successfully supplied by massive air drops from the Luftwaffe. Army Group A consolidates its bridgehead over the Manych River, while Army Group B struggles to reduce the Soviet bridgehead at Kalach in the Don Estuary west of Stalingrad.
The German advance into the Northern Caucasus continues.
Army Group A continues to fan out into the Caucasus region, while advance units reach the Kuban River. Army Group B continues its fight to cut off the Soviet defenders near Kalach in the Don bend near Stalingrad.
Advance units of 4th Panzer Army cross the Aksay river in their drive toward Stalingrad.
1st Panzer Army captures Voroshilovsk, over 200 miles to the south east of Rostov. The 4th Panzer Army moving northeast runs straight into the Soviet 64th and 57th Armies. Stalin creates the new Southwest Front out of a part of the forces assigned to Stalingrad Front.
German 1st Panzer Army crosses the Kuban river at Armavir.
Units of the 6th Army cross the Don river at Kalach during their advance toward Stalingrad.
The 1st Panzer Army captures the Maikop oilfields, which were left burning furiously by the Red Army, so little refined fuel was found. German 17th Army which was advancing behind the 1st Panzer Army reaches Krasnodar, on the river Kuban.
With the support of von Richthofen's 4th Air Fleet, which had been transferred from Army Group A, the 6th Army crosses the Don and reaches the outskirts of Stalingrad.
In their advance south toward the Grozny oilfields, units of Army Group A capture Elista near the Caspian Sea. Churchill arrives in Moscow for talks with Sralin. During 4 days of often acrimonious talks, Stalin was eventually forced to accept that there would be no 'second front' during 1942.
German forces cross the upper Kuban river at Krasnodar in the Caucasus.
The first foreign newspaper since the Revolution appears in Russia. Units of Army Group A reach the foothills of the Caucasus.
General Paulus's 6th Army begins an attack to take Stalingrad itself, although he had still not been joined by Hoth's 4th Panzer Army.
The Russians counter-attack to the north of Stalingrad, but elsewhere German troops reach the Volga. The German 48th Panzer Corps, attacks northeast from Abganerovo, but can not break clear of the Russian defences in the hills of Tundutovo. On their northern flank, 4th Corps is also facing resolute Russian resistance.
The advance of 17th Army toward the Black Sea port of Suchumi west of the Caucasus bogs down.
Hitlers orders that Leningrad should finally be captured after a siege which has last a year. The Luftwaffe begins a 48 hours long air raid on Stalingrad, that involves over 4,000 sorties into the city. The city erupts into a sea of flames along its 40 km length as oil storage tanks pour their flaming contents into the Volga. Thousands of civilians perish in the flames. The 6th Army punches a hole in Soviet 62nd Army's defense's as the 14th Panzer Corps crosses the Don River at Vertyachiy and reaches the Volga at Rynok, north of Stalingrad. An 8 km wide gap is torn between Vertyachiy and Peskovatka that allows the 6th Army to reach Volga. Hoths 4th Panzer Army is held up by stiff Red Army resistance south of Stalingrad at Tinguta. The Germans make further progress on the Kuban peninsula on the Black Sea. A platoon of 1st Gebirgsjäger Division hoists the Swastika flag on the top of Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak in the Caucasus. This marks the 'high water' mark in the German attempts to secure the Black Sea coastline. Matters for Army Group A were not helped by the increased priority given to Army Group B in its fight for Stalingrad.
The Russians launch a new offensive in Leningrad area. Stalin orders that the city of Stalingrad is to be held at all costs and sends Marshal Zhukov to supervise its defence.
The 4th Panzer Army breaks off attacks south of Stalingrad. Communist Party Committee of Stalingrad proclaims a state of siege.
The Russians announce that their offensive along the Moscow front has pushed the Germans back 15-20 miles in a fortnight. German successes continue in Caucasus.
The Red Army launches counterattacks from the Leningrad pocket against Schluesselburg and the Volkhov front. The Red Army's offensive on the Moscow front continues. Zhukov is appointed Stalin’s First Deputy Commissar for defense.
Germans break through South west of Stalingrad but are held to the north.
With the Punishment Battalions as rear guards, the Soviet 62nd and parts of 64th Army escapes encirclement by the 48th Panzer Corps and withdraw across the Chervlennaya river.
The Germans claim to have reached the Black Sea in the Caucasus, while units of the 1st Panzer Army form a bridgehead across the Terek river at Mozdok.
The defenders of Leningrad launch an attack in a vain attempt to meet the relief forces. The pincers of the 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army finally meet up to the west of Stalingrad at Pitomnik. The Germans now attempted to break into Stalingrad from the west, but were unable to do so because of limited Red Army counter-attacks against his flanks, which diverted a significant proportion of his forces. Luftflotte 4 continues its round-the-clock air attacks against Stalingrad.
The 4th Gebirgsjäger division of the 17th Army captures the Black Sea naval base of Novorossiysk, while six Axis divisions cross the Straits of Kerch to Taman. Heavy house-to-house fighting continues in the centre of Stalingrad.
The 6th Army begins a four-mile advance through Stalingrad to the Volga.
Hitler sacks Field Marshal List and takes personal command of Army Group A in the Caucasus, which having been foiled by the Red Army in the western Caucasus, was now meeting increased resistance in its drive towards Astrakhan and Baku.
The Red Army forces attacking from besieged Leningrad fail to break the German lines.
6th Army begins its final effort to take Stalingrad.
Counter-attacks by the Soviet 62nd Army in Stalingrad fails as the 6th Army renews its attack against Stalingrad. The Soviet 62nd Army is hemmed into a narrow strip of land no more than 10 miles at its widest and 4 miles as its narrowest. However, a shortage of troops meant that the 6th Army could only attack on very narrow frontages. Couple this to the fact that the 6th Army was fighting in built-up areas, meant that progress was slow and losses high. Even so, the 51st Corps advanced toward the inner city and the Central Station.
Fierce fighting between German and Soviet forces erupts for possession of Mamayev Kurgan, the strategic hill overlooking Stalingrad.
Stalingrad railway station changes hands several times.
Bitter street fighting in the north west suburbs of Stalingrad.
The Russians launch an offensive on the Voronezh front, 250 miles North west of Stalingrad.
Paulus declares that the 6th Army need substantial reinforcements if it is to continues its assault in Stalingrad. Paulus and von Weichs were also very concerned about their flank defence which consisted of Italian, Hungarian and Romanian troops. However, Hitler was determined to capture Stalingrad before reorganising the flanks.
The 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army split the Soviet 62nd Army in two and capture nearly the entire southern part of the city, including the huge grain elevator which was successfully defended by 40 Soviet marines for over a week.
Soviet counterattacks to dislodge German advance units near the Volga landing stage are unsuccessful.
Units of Army Group A launch an attack against the Black Sea port of Tuapse. The German Chief of Staff, General Halder is sacked by Hitler and is replaced by General Zeitzler.
The ‘Final’ German offensive begins at Stalingrad.
The 6th Army succeed in capturing most of the strategic Mamayev Kurgan hill and penetrates the heavily defended Red October and Barricades housing estates.
German pressure in Stalingrad is again stepped up the 6th Army struggles desperately to clear Stalingrad.
The Russians cross the Volga to the North west of Moscow and recapture 25 villages.
The 6th Army continues to push the decimated Soviet 62nd Army back toward the Volga, but with heavy losses to both sides.
The fourth German offensive begins in Stalingrad as the 14th Panzer Corps launches an attack in force to capture the Tractor Factory in the northern part of the city.
The 3rd Panzer Corps captures Malgobek at the bend of the Terek river in the Caucasus.
The Red Army ends its system of dual leadership by abolishing the position of the Communist political commissar in favor of a single military commander in its various units.
The Russians regain some ground in Stalingrad, but at heavy cost.
In the northern part of Stalingrad, units of the 6th Army advance in bitter fighting and surround the heavily defended Tractor Factory, following a series of devastating attacks (over 3,000 sorties) by bombers of Luftflotte 4.
The advance by Army Group A toward the Black Sea port of Tuapse is halted due to difficult terrain and stubborn Soviet resistance.
Against fierce Soviet resistance, the 6th Army capture most of the Red October and Barricades factories in the northern part of the city.
Germans capture two more streets in Stalingrad with severe losses. The last German offensive in the Caucasus begins.
The Soviet 37th Army is defeated in Caucasus.
The Germans capture Nalchik in the Caucasus, only 50 miles from the Grozny oil fields.
In their advance toward Ordshonikidse in the Caucasus, units of 3rd Panzer Corps capture Alagir on the upper Terek river.
Bitter street fighting continues in Stalingrad with neither side making much progress. Due to increasing supply problems and the onset of winter, Army Group A's advance in to the Caucasus ends with the 13th Panzer Division of 3rd Panzer Corps being stopped 5 miles short of Ordshonikidze, the southeastern-most point in Russia to be reached by the Wehrmacht.
In an interview with American journalists, Stalin describes US military aid as of little effect.
Halted before Ordshonikidse in the Caucasus, the 13th Panzer Division is fighting to prevent itself being cut off by superior Soviet forces attacking its flanks and rear. In a speech to the Congress of Soviet Deputies, Stalin warns the United States and Britain that 'the absence of a second front against Fascist Germany may end badly for all freedom loving countries, including the Allies themselves'. He declares that 'the aim of the coalition is to save mankind from reversion to savagery and mediaeval brutality'.
6th Army launches its last major attack to capture Stalingrad and succeeds in reaching the Volga near the Red October factory on a frontage of 600 yards. The 13th Panzer-Division of 3rd Panzer Corps begins to disengage its units halted before Ordshonikidse to avoid being cut off by the heavy Soviet attacks against its communications.
The Red Army opens its winter offensive with a pincer movement round Stalingrad with the aim of encircling and destroying the German forces fighting in Stalingrad. The initial attacks by the Soviet 5th Tank Army from the north and the 51st Army from the south are directed against the exposed rear flanks of 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army held by the Romanian 3rd and 4th Army's which are overrun and scattered. Russian gains in Caucasus are also announced.
Northeast and southwest of Stalingrad, the attacking Soviet armies are making rapid progress in the direction of Kalach on the Don, the chosen meeting point of the two pincers. The 6th and 4th Panzer Army's hurriedly dispatch mobile units to bolster the unprepared and crumbling Romanian defenses west and south of the Don. Hitler relinquishes his command of Army Group A to Kleist.
The situation for the 6th Army is deteriorating fast, not least owing to the fact that Army HQ is being relocated which leads to serious disruptions in communications with the troops in and outside the city.
The Soviet 4th Mechanised Corps from the south and the 4th Tank Corps from the north, join hands at Kalach on the Don, thus establishing the complete encirclement of the 300,000 men of 6th and 4th Panzer Army's. The Russians report gains of up to 50 mites south of Stalingrad.
The Russians claim 24,000 prisoners have been taken since the start of their counter offensive.
The Russians throw Germans rearguards back across the Don.
Army Group Don under Manstein is formed to relieve Stalingrad.
Several German divisions ordered to be transferred from Western Europe begin arriving in the area of Army Group Don southwest of Stalingrad in preparation of 'Operation Winter Tempest', the relief of the encircled 6th Army.
Manstein launches his counter attack with a hastily assembled force of 13 divisions, including three Panzer divisions with about 230 tanks to try and relieve Sixth Army at Stalingrad.
A three day tank battle begins South of Stalingrad.
The Red Army begins another offensive in the direction of Rostov-on-Don to cut off the German forces in the Caucasus. The Italian 8th Army's precarious position on the Don threatens Stalingrad relief attempt.
Manstein’s tanks are only 30 miles South of Stalingrad.
Hitler refuses to let Paulus break out.
Having advanced as far as the Myshkova river 30 miles southwest of Stalingrad, the three Panzer divisions of the relief force have exhausted their power and begin to withdraw towards their starting line at Kotelnikovo.
Following the suspension of 'Operation Winter Tempest', the relief of Stalingrad, the Red Army begins an offensive against Army Group Don toward Kotelnikovo, breaking through the lines of 4th Romanian Army.
Heavy fighting continues all around the perimeter of Stalingrad, while the decimated and starving troops of 6th Army receive their last rations of horse meat, the 12,000 horses in the pocket having now all been slaughtered.
The Russians continue their advance on the southern front and claim 56,000 prisoners taken in middle Don region.
Hitler agrees to allow the retreat by Army Groups A and Don to a line 150 miles west of Stalingrad.
In the face of the continuing Soviet offensive toward Rostov-on-Don, Army Group A is ordered to withdraw its forces from the Caucasus.
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