The battle for Voronezh: than she surpassed Stalingrad

History 02/02/20 Battle for Voronezh: than she surpassed Stalingrad

the defense of Voronezh is one of the least known pages of the great Patriotic war. There are purely political reasons. However, today it is safe to say that the Voronezh line, which was constrained by the large force of the enemy, became one of the significant terms of the victory of Soviet troops at Stalingrad.

turn the Key

Voronezh met the German command universal springboard from which it was possible to hit both at Moscow and at Stalingrad. But if on the resumption of the offensive on Moscow, Hitler has not yet been considered, the output to the Middle Volga and the capture of Stalingrad he imagined doable tasks. Remained most a little – to overcome the Voronezh Rubicon.

the Capture of Voronezh in the German General staff began to plan in early April 1942. The operation was supposed to be part of the plan for “Fall Blau” forces the 900-strong force of the Wehrmacht, with the support of 1,200 tanks, 1640 aircraft and 17 thousand guns. Already on 5 April, the rate of the Fuhrer issued an order in which the Voronezh operation was named chief on the Eastern front, its task was to destroy the Soviet troops concentrated at Voronezh.

a Further aim of the German command was the advance of the troops to the South along the river don to connect with the units sent from Taganrog, about 70 kilometers West of Stalingrad. Hitler insisted that Stalingrad to take it is necessary under all conditions, in extreme case, try using a heavy long-range artillery to bombard the city, “so it lost its importance as a center of war industry and communication”.

on the Eve of approach of German armies to the Voronezh were withdrawn almost all regular part owing to the postponement of the bet commander. The city had to defend understaffed 232 th division, volunteer battalions, underdivision of the NKVD, as well as cadets of school of militia. The evacuation of the civilian population of Voronezh was too late: the city did not have time to travel about 200 thousand people – about half of the residents. From Voronezh in the shortest possible time was formed guerrilla units, numbering up to 5 thousand people.

on the Eve of the assault by the German air force repeatedly subjected the city to massive bombing, happened in one night in Voronezh, it was dropped to one thousand aviacargo. 13 June 1942, two weeks before the offensive began, the Luftwaffe organized a strike at the entertainment Park “Garden of the pioneers”, where for children the festival was held to mark the end of the school year. The consequences of the RAID was horrific – hundreds killed and maimed students. Even in Germany then noted that the Russian would violently avenge the death of their children.

the Unprecedented defence

the Heroic defenders of Voronezh had to face vastly superior forces of the enemy. The city approached the operational group of the Wehrmacht, which included elite units, including the 2nd army, Maximilian von Weihs, 4th Panzer army Hermann Hoth, a strong aviation connection, but also Hungarian, Romanian and Italian units. In the first two months here was fought the 6th army of Friedrich Paulus, then sent to Stalingrad. In addition, in the Voronezh operation Hitler first used the newest tanks “Tigers” and “Panthers” and “Ferdinand”, which was supposed to crush all defence position.

the Assault on the city began early on the morning of 6 July 1942. And already from the first hours of the German troops and their allies had to face fierce resistance from the townspeople and soldiers. A major battle was divided into numerous small street battles, the Germans are increasingly stuck in dilapidated urban neighborhoods. The defenders fought for every street, for every house.

to help the Voronezh aircraft came the 2nd shock army aviation, who fought in the air with the superior forces of the Luftwaffe. Sometimes sootoszenie aircraft was 2 to 29 are not in our favor, but the heroism of the Soviet pilots allowed to significantly reduce the activity of German aircraft. The chief of army staff of the Wehrmacht Franz Halder was forced to admit in his diary that the German divisions are at risk of being exterminated here.

Despite the desperate resistance, by the evening of 6 July, the defenders were forced to leave almost all right-Bank part of the city. Fighting continued only in the area of Agricultural Institute, located in the Northern part of Voronezh, it often came to melee fights. Sometimes the same home several times passed it to one or to the other side.

it Seemed that to cross to the left Bank of the Voronezh river the Germans will not be easy. However, repeated attempts to cross a water barrier have been unsuccessful – all the bridges to that time were blown up. Only once they succeeded on the southern outskirts of the city. But on the way to the center of the left Bank of the German formation was completely destroyed.

once the German command was sent to the Voronezh backup. Hitler even ordered to give up the regiment in which he once served with the rank of corporal. The intention of the Fuehrer, it was to give German troops the confidence, however, in a few days from an elite unit were only 8 people. Problems on the Voronezh front had forced the German generals to relocate from Stalingrad an additional division.

Heroic springboard

the Soviet command understood the importance of the Voronezh abroad for Stalingrad and the progress of the war. To Voronezh have been tightened earlier part of the retreating 40th, 60th army, 5th Panzer army and the newly created tank corps. The most severe fighting took place on the outskirts of the city where Soviet tankers faced with the latest German armored vehicles. Unfortunately, the offensive of the red Army soon bogged down, but the Wehrmacht failed to build on the success.

In August 1942 teamsthe creation of the red army were set the task to create, on the right Bank of Voronezh, South of the city centre, a springboard, from where one could launch a new offensive. This was built a ferry, submerged two feet under water. It was invisible to enemy aircraft, allowing to transfer to the right Bank armored vehicles and the land part. Acted with extreme caution, mainly at night.

Kirovskomu bridgehead (named for the district Chizhovka) was destined to become the starting point of the successful offensive of the Soviet troops. He has taken a special place in the history of the great Patriotic war. One of the veterans of the 5th guards infantry division Franz Periorbita, which protected the base, recalled: “We went through the war. Kursk, Kiev, Lviv, Poland and Prague… But the way rose on the attack our infantry, we did not see never”. Soldiers Chizhovsky bridgehead was nicknamed “death valley” it is here, under constant shelling and aviabombardirovka, with huge losses, managed to tie down substantial enemy forces.

in the Fall of 1942, the German defense in the area of Voronezh were formed ledge to a depth of 100 kilometers and a base of about 130 miles, there was 10 German and 2 Hungarian divisions. Suggests a blow to the flanks, to which the Soviet high command began after a carefully crafted plan of attack.

24 January 1943, Voronezh-Kastornoye operation. A Blizzard and snow drifts markedly reduced the effectiveness of artillery fire and held back the advance of our troops. However, on January 25, the 4th tank corps of the 40th army broke through a gap in the enemy’s defenses, opening the way to other parts of the red army. On the same day, the Soviet information Bureau announced that troops of the Voronezh front, knocking the German group, gained control of the city.

In the shadow of Stalingrad

the plan for “Fall Blau” in the Voronezh had to take a four-day period. However, the heroic resistance of the city lasted for 212 days! For the duration of the defense of Voronezh inferior only Leningrad (1125 days), Novorossiysk (394 days) and Sevastopol (248 days), surpassing Moscow (203 days) and Stalingrad (201 days). During the great Patriotic war the front line passed through the city blocks only in two cities – Stalingrad and Voronezh.

the loss of the Germans in the battle of Voronezh was catastrophic. They can even be compared with Stalingrad. Near Voronezh, the Wehrmacht had lost 9 divisions, almost all weapons and equipment, in addition, were completely broken Italian, Hungarian and Romanian groups. Here found his grave more than 320 thousand German soldiers and officers and their allies. True, the Soviet army lost in Voronezh region, about 400 thousand people. The prisoner was not less than 75 thousand soldiers of the enemy. This is slightly less than the number of prisoners in the final stages of the Stalingrad operations – 91 thousand.

it is Noteworthy that in the reports from the fronts never used the phrase “battle for the Voronezh”, the city was mentioned primarily as a geographical landmark. In the historiography also did not approve of such a thing: use a more neutral – Voronezh-Kastornoye operation.

For Soviet veterans of the significance of the battle of Voronezh was always obvious, but he never was awarded the title of hero-City. Representatives of the Voronezh administration at least six times attempted to achieve for his city of the honorary title, however, the leadership of the country, not really explaining the reasons and refused to either put off a decision for later.

However, unofficially, the reluctance of the Moscow authorities to recognize the Voronezh City-hero was due to the increased secrecy of this city, who did not want to draw the crowds. After all, in Voronezh there were a lot of enterprises engaged in secret developments in the field of electronics, electrical engineering, rocket engines and space stations. All of what has been achieved – the city awarding the order of the Patriotic war I degree in 1975 and assignment him the title of city of military glory in 2008.

the Historian Sergey Filonenko said that one of the reasons why in Soviet times, the title of the hero City spared Voronezh, is friendship with the socialist Hungary. In Voronezh is the largest in the history of this country the burial of its soldiers in 1942-1943 here killed at least 150 thousand Hungarians. So I decided in Moscow, not to downplay the glorification of Voronezh identity of the partner in the socialist camp.

meanwhile, according to current estimates, the battle for Voronezh line, keeping a considerable force of the enemy, largely gained the victory at Stalingrad. According to historians, here are stuck 30 of 90 moving to the Volga German and allied divisions – a third of the troops, which Hitler was going to throw at Stalingrad. It is interesting that the Fuhrer on the eve of the attack on Voronezh was not named this turn key, solution to the question of his capture he left to his generals. For him the main goal was the city named after Stalin.

Taras Repin

© Russian Seven

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