Skip to comments.BERLIN REPORTS RECAPTURE OF KHARKOV; CAPITAL AGREED ON POST-WAR PLANS (3/15/43)
Posted on 03/15/2013 5:16:57 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Germans take Kharkov from Soviets
Monday, March 15, 1943 www.onwar.com
German infantry after the recapture of Kharkov [photo at link]
On the Eastern Front... German forces complete the recapture of Kharkov after the last Soviet defenders of the tractor factory withdraws. Meanwhile, to the north, Soviet forces capture Kholm and Zharkovskiy, to the north and east of Velikiye Luki as the German Army Group Center continues its withdrawal.
In New Guinea... The US 7th Fleet (Admiral Carpender) is formed to control naval operations around the island.
March 15th, 1943 (MONDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: The Royal Navy launches its first X-craft, or midget submarine; it is just 50 ft long and five feet nine inches broad.
Submarine HMS Muskallonge commissioned.
Frigate HMS Essington laid down.
ASW trawler HMS Bombardier commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: Berlin: Finland and Germany sign a trade agreement.
Rastenburg: The Germans have recaptured the city of Kharkov after bitter street fighting. A special communiqué from Hitler’s headquarters last night claimed that three picked divisions of Waffen-SS, the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, the Totenkopf and the Das Reich, strongly supported by the Luftwaffe, have retaken the city in an encircling attack from the north and west.
The Red Army high command has not yet confirmed the loss of Kharkov, saying that only “heavy fighting continues in the area”, but it has uttered Stalingrad-style orders to the defenders, and the newspapers have issued a rallying call: “We can and must hurl back the onslaught at Kharkov and on the Donets no matter what the cost.”
North of Kharkov, a new German attack is developing against Bielgorod, the fortress town on the railway to Kursk, and there is every indication that the Germans intend to try to recapture Kursk.
The German successes stem from the counter-offensive launched by von Manstein on 22 February when he caught the Russians by surprise while they were over-extended in their great advance to the west following their great victory at Stalingrad.
One of the first actions of the German troops on entering Kharkov was the murder of 200 people in a hospital. Afterwards they set light to the building.
U-1230 laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
GREECE: Athens: The Nazis began by allocating 20 trains for the deportation of Jews from Greece. These carried off only 11,000 and more trains had to be found for the more than 50,000 that remained. They are being rounded up in repeated sweeps that extend to the Aegean Islands. No Jewish community, no matter how small is safe: the three Jews among the 2,000 people on the island of Samothrace have shared the fate of their brethren on the mainland.
Jews from Salonika arriving at Auschwitz are to be used for experiments conducted by Professor Karl Clauberg, a prominent German gynaecologist, who claims that he can sterilize a thousand women a day with the use of X-rays. The experiments are backed by Himmler, who says that everybody involved must be pledged to secrecy. Clauberg’s associate, the surgeon Dr Johann Kremer, writing of life at Auschwitz, has noted in his diary: “Excellent food. We had sour duck livers, with stuffed tomatoes, tomato salad etc.”
But some Greek Jews are believed to have escaped, fleeing to the hills to join the partisans or being smuggled across the Aegean to Turkey in the hope of reaching Palestine.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: At 1845, Ocean Seaman in Convoy ET-14 was torpedoed and badly damaged by U-380 about 60 miles west of Algiers. The ship was taken in tow by destroyer USS Paul Jones and beached the next day near Algiers, where she was declared a total loss. The master, 48 crewmembers and ten gunners were picked up by minesweeper HM MMS-133 and the British SS Eildon and landed at Gibraltar and Oran. (Dave Shirlaw)
BURMA: Irrawaddy: Two Chindit columns under Major Mike Calvert and Major Bernard Fergusson, have crossed the Irrawaddy river and plan to destroy the Gokteik Gorge railway viaduct. Soon they will be joined by the main Chindit force.
Since 13 February, when the Chindit commander, Brigadier Orde Wingate, issued a biblical “we stand on the threshold of battle” order of the day, the 3,000 Chindits have been “stirring up a hornet’s nest” in Japanese -occupied northern Burma, marching with pack mules and supplied from the air. So far they have been remarkably successful in spite of the well-known difficulties of their controversial commander, a gunner by training, a guerrilla by experience and a manic-depressive by inclination. Numerous vital railway bridges have been destroyed, and thousands of Japanese troops have been diverted from moves against India and China to find the Chindits.
But the terrain on the east bank of the Irrawaddy is very different from the jungle of the west bank: treeless hills and coverless lowland, hemmed in on three sides by rivers. It is here that three Japanese divisions are now gathering to attack the Chindits.
PACIFIC OCEAN: US submarine Triton (SS-201), commanded by George K. Mackenzie, Jr., is sunk by a Japanese destroyer north of Admiralty Island. All hands are lost. (Joe Sauder)
Admiral Carpender commands the US 7th Fleet as it becomes operational. It is formed to control naval operations around New Guinea.
CANADA: Castle-class corvettes ordered from Canadian yards (all later cancelled) - HMS Bodiam Castle, Bolton Castle, Bramber Castle, Bridgenorth Castle, Brough Castle, Chepstow Castle, Clare Castle, Clavering Castle, Clitheroe Castle, Dhyfe Castle, Cornet Castle, Cowes Castle, Cowling Castle, Cromer Castle, Dunster Castle, Canterbury Castle, Christchurch Castle, Colchester Castle, Clun Castle, Aydon Castle, Barnell Castle, Beeston Castle, Bowes Castle, Divizes Castle, Egremont Castle, Criccieth Castle, Fotheringay Castle, Helmsley Castle, Malling Castle, Malmesbury Castle, Raby Castle, Trematon Castle, Tutbury Castle.
Algerine-class minesweepers ordered in Canada - HMS Jaseur, Laertes, Maened, Magicienne, Mameluke, Mandate, Marvel, Michael, Minstrel, Myrmidon, Mystic, Nerissa, Niger (cancelled), Nicator (cancelled), Nonpareil (cancelled), Nox (cancelled), Odin (cancelled), Orcadia, Ossory, Pluto, Polaris, Pyrrhus, Romola, Rosamund, Styx (cancelled). (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.A.: During WW II, the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) produced numerous documents, most commonly known are the Intelligence Bulletins. The Military Intelligence Special Series continues with “Morale-building activities in foreign armies.” (William L. Howard)
Numbered fleet system established in US Navy.
Destroyer escort USS Andres commissioned.
Destroyer USS McCook commissioned.
Destroyer escort USS Kirkpatrick laid down.
Aircraft carriers USS Antietam and Lake Champlain laid down.
Submarines USS Picuda and Pampanito laid down.
Escort carrier USS Shamrock Bay laid down.
Three Japanese destroyers sink submarine USS Triton.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: The Italian submarine LEONARDO DA VINCI sinks the Canadian Pacific line EMPRESS OF CANADA off Sierra Leone.
SS Wyoming sunk by U-524 40.18N, 28.56W. (Dave Shirlaw)
My native city Kharkov (properly Kharkiv) was taken back and forth between Germans and Russians several times. Neither were friendly to the natives and both were occupiers.
When Germany recaptured Karkov, the 1st SS Standarten Adolf Hitler went through the military hospitals and murdered over 6000 Soviet soldiers.
It takes a real beast to make Stalin the bad guy. Hitler managed it.
Sorry, I should have said that it takes a real beast to make Stalin the good guy, but Hitler managed it.
My Ukrainian friends would disagree. In the great famine called “The Holodomor” about 10 million Ukrainians were deliberately starved to death. All caused by an order from Stalin and carried out by Nikita Kruschev.
FM Erich von Manstein orchestrated the German counteroffensive which lead to the recapture of Kharkov and much of the surrounding territory the Germans had lost during the Russian winter offensive which culminated with huge German debacle at Stalingrad.
IMHO, Manstein was the most brilliant military stretegist and commander of WWII. He saw the Soviet offensive was over extended, and running low on supplies, fuel, and ammo. He engineered a brilliant counterstroke attacking overextended Soviet flanks and wiping out several Soviet armies in the process. Manstein was constantly butting heads with Hitler. Hitler, inflexible as ever, was determined to hold existing lines at all costs (such as with Stalingrad). Manstein favored a more elastic front, giving up territory when need be, allowing the Soviets to get overextended, than striking back at exposed flanks. Hitler always hated the idea of giving up any ground at all.
Hitler loved to always boast of his secret weapons. But his greatest assets were brilliant generals like Manstein, Rommel, Kesselring, Model, and Guderian. Fortunately, Hitler thought his own military acumen was superior to that of his own generals, and often overruled them and ignored their advice. The Allies soon realized that Hitler’s constant strategic blundering was their greatest secret weapon and eventually abandoned assassination plots against him. At about that same time, the ones most interested in assassinating Hitler were high ranking German military officers, whose efforts culminated in the July 20th 1944 Bomb Plot.
Kharkov is in the Ukraine.
Over 20 million Russians and Ukrainians perished in the war, a good many of them due to Stalin's blunders. As an example in spite of warnings from England about attacks and German strategies as revealed by Enigma decrypts he routinely ignored them.
I love to read old newspapers and magazines and wonder if you can recommend on online source where I can just read them similar to how you have posted them?
The New York Times articles are all available for at price at their website. In addition, a lot of large libraries subscribe to the Times online service so you can access any of their articles. I think most major newspapers also have archive sections on their websites but you have to pay for access. CougarGA7 used to post Life magazine every week so there is a site for that out there somewhere.
For some reason I’ve always had a fascination for the war within a war between Hitler and Stalin. It was an incredibly brutal war with atrocities committed by everyone to everyone. The scale of this conflict, and the staggering losses, defy imagination.
Stalin was an absolutely ruthless dictator, willing to force his subjects to pay any price. Both dictators cared not a whit for the lives of their soldiers or their peoples.
This conflict was also filled with great ironies, most notably the two related to the Non-Aggression Pact. The first irony is that Stalin, the man who trusted no one, trusted the one man no one should have trusted; Adolph Hitler. Stalin’s trust that Hitler would not attack him led to a good deal of the Soviet losses in the first year of the war. The second irony is that Stalin entered the Pact in the first place in the belief that the Western Allies were not serious about fighting Hitler themselves. Stalin believed they just wanted the USSR to defeat Hitler at the cost of copious amounts of Russian blood. So he cut his deal with Hitler with the intent that it would keep him from being drawn into the war. But by entering the Non-Aggression Pact, Stalin gave Hitler a free hand to defeat France, and then turn on him. Thus, it turned out that the only way to defeat Hitler was for the USSR to do all the heavy fighting. And in the end, Hitler was defeated at the cost of copious amounts of Russian blood.
There is no way to romanticize what took place in the East. The Soviet Socialists were monsters and so too were the invading National Socialist monsters.
It's difficult to comprehend the suffering which took place in the East, particularly in those regions where massive pitched battles took place between the two godzillas.
Then there was the partisan warfare; pro-Soviet, anti-Soviet and mixed groups of assorted criminals and deserters.
For the civilians in those regions, it's probably best to not know too much about what they did in order to survive.
Front Page: 2% Sales Tax Vital to City’s Services, La Guardia Warns. Museums, Libraries and One College May Have to Close Without It, He Says.
Profit groggy, eh? Haven't heard that one before. I guess it didn't catch on.
You didn't built that.
Same play book 60 years later.
My sense is that Russian demographics are so bad today due to the fact that they lost so many people during the war.
No doubt. For Stalin they had to invent a new term: democide.
Genocide was too restrictive.
My limited understanding is that Stalin had more killed, but Hitler killed at a higher rate, but for a shorter duration. Hitler had a particular habit of attacking and invading his allies.
Russian demographics are bad today because of low birth rate.
70 years ago is a long time.
That does not reduce the shocking numbers: 20 million dead from the Great Terror, 35 million from the Soviet side in WWII.
I have an interesting book that I recommend for specialists:
” Slaughterhouse: The Handbook of the Eastern Front”
by David Glantz
It is not an easy read, but has great information. Glantz had significant access to the Soviet archives, which he compares favorably to German military archives. He notes that every event has separate reports from command and commissar channels, so there are usually multiple views of major events.
I have the following Glantz books in my library:
When Titans Clashed
Zhukov’s Greatest Defeat
Smolensk Vol. 1
Red Storm Over the Balkans
There may be a couple others; that’s just off the top of my head.
Good set! After reading Glantz we get an appreciation of the price paid by Soviets, and the paranoia (PTSD) suffered by soviet leaders from that price.