History 23/02/20 Operation “Rumyantsev”: why about it did not like to write Soviet historians

In Soviet times, about the battle of Kursk he wrote a lot, but not all its parts were equally illuminated. Defensive battles was paid a lot of attention, which is not about offensive actions of our troops. The least attention was paid to operations to the South under the code name “Commander Rumyantsev”.

the Belgorod-Kharkov strategic offensive operation

the Belgorod-Kharkov operation, codenamed “Rumyantsev” began on 3 August and lasted 21 days.

After the German offensive on the southern fase Kursk bulge finally fizzled out, the Soviet troops went on the offensive, and the greater part of the front has reached a position from which began the battle of Kursk.

on 5 August at the beginning of the offensive of the Voronezh and Steppe fronts had liberated Belgorod. Although German counter-attacks are greatly slowed down the Soviet offensive, on 23 August was liberated Kharkov.

In the course of the operation Soviet troops, according to the reference book “Russia and USSR in wars of XX century: losses of the armed forces”, edited by G. F. Krivosheev, lost 255 566 men killed, wounded and missing. German losses for the whole of August was 51 724 people. During the offensive, every day the fronts were losing 12 to 170 people. At that time — almost two full divisions. So large, especially in comparison with the Wehrmacht, the loss of most historians explain the failure of the Soviet command from the operation to encircle the Belgorod-Kharkov grouping. Indeed, the very configuration of the front was extremely successful in order to make the Germans the “pot”. Instead, our troops were advancing on the forehead, forcing the Germans, and that was the reason for the high losses.

the reasons for this decision have long argued historians in the West and in the post-Soviet era that began to pay attention to domestic andsledovateli.

Why in Kharkov on steel to make a new Stalingrad

this question in the Soviet era, in his memoirs, gave the answer who was involved in planning the operation. In his book “the General staff during the war”, S. M. Shtemenko, who was then head of the operations Directorate of the General staff of the red army, wrote that he considered the two options of attack. And from the surrounding Germans refused.

Shtemenko gives the following arguments. First, the Germans had too many forces in the area. Secondly, the Wehrmacht created a very strong defense. Thirdly, surrounded in Kharkov troops could create a fortress that would be very difficult to take. As a result, Shtemenko concludes that:

“… the environment and subsequent liquidation of the Belgorod-Kharkov grouping of Germans for a long time chained to a large number of our troops, would distract them from the offensive to the Dnieper, and thus made it easier for the enemy the possibility of creating a new strong defense on the right Bank of the Dnieper.”

As in the Soviet Union the history of the war studied in the memoir, and challenge Shtemenko, no one could, especially because the available documents were not.

At present, free access is enough Soviet and German documents which completely refute what was said.

Documents refute the memoirs of Shtemenko

All of the many archival documents give a different picture than depicted in the memoirs.

German troops was a significant force, but their number was significantly exaggerated. A large part of the Panzer divisions were transferred to other areas of the front: the division “Great Germany” in the district of Orel, the SS division “Adolf Hitler” in Italy, the rest of the SS division sent to the Donbass. So the troops of the Steppe and Voronezh fronts are not opposed to 600 tanks (625 combat-ready tanks in the entire army group “South”), and 306 tanks and assault guns. Given the fact that the Soviet troops had by the beginning of the operation 2672 tanks and SAHave, the difference is very great. The majority of German infantry divisions after the losses incurred have not received the refill, they had a maximum of 50-60% of staff, while the Soviet troops were able to bring the average strength of the infantry divisions up to 6-7 thousand. Crucially, all these details were already known at the time of the planning of the operation, the German troops were thoroughly opened our intelligence.

Also do not think, according to the documents, our troops were on the German defence, considered her rather weak and unprepared.

the Argument Shtemenko that Kharkov can turn into an impregnable fortress, is not entirely clear, as the city plan in any case was surrounded and stormed.

as for the win by the Germans time and create a defense along the Dnieper, then it is none of the historians agrees. By the time the Wehrmacht felt a huge shortage of personnel. The system has already put teenagers, old people, criminals, foreigners, even the “racially inferior”. If the Germans staged in the center of Kharkov a big “pot”, it could lead to a complete collapse of the entire southern part of the Eastern front.

Why not to surround?

According to one of the researchers of the battle of Kursk, V. Zamulina, outlined in his paper “on the causes of the failure of the Soviet command from the environment of the Belgorod-Kharkov grouping of the Wehrmacht in August 1943”, the reason was the uncertainty of command, primarily Stalin, the capacity to carry out the environment. First and foremost, the Supreme doubted the skills of higher officers. The “pot” of Stalingrad has shown that when such operations are fettered by many forces, and the whole course of the fighting at Stalingrad were not developed according to plan. But most importantly, the success at Stalingrad was the only one. All other attempts to make the Germans “cauldron” in 1942 and the first half of 1943 ended in failure, and even tragedy.

And although it is considered that the Red Army had learned to encircle the Germans in the winter 1943, actually and Korsun-Shevchenkovskiy “pot” and Kamenetz-Podolsk, which Soviet historians called the “second” and “third” as “Stalingrad”, was not entirely successful — the Germans have escaped.

Perhaps this was the reason which led to such large losses in “operation Rumyantsev”.

Cyril Shishkin

© Russian Seven

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