Version: 1.00 (November 2007)
Engine: Battles in Italy
AI or PBEM: AI or PBEM
Download: Last Victory in Russia
In mid-December 1942, after encircling the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad, Hitler's armies had been dealt a series of defeats by the Russians, beginning with the disaster at Stalingrad. Soviet forces in southern Russia began a series of offensive operations which continued unabated into February 1943. By the end of January of 1943, successive Soviet offensives had destroyed the German 6. Armee and annihilated the armies of Germanys Axis allies, Italy, Rumania and Hungary. Germany teetered on the brink of defeat in World War II because the Soviet advance threatened to drive to the Dnepr River and encircle the remaining Germans armies in southern Russia. Stalin and the Russian high command believed that the war could be won with just one more great effort. Accordingly, they planned and launched two offensives, designated Operations Star and Gallop. This scenario is an account of both these operations in unison, in a limited capacity.
The focal points of the two offensives "Star and Gallop" included the recapture of Kharkov, the industrial heart of the Ukraine and the destruction of Armeeabteilung Hollidt, 4. Panzerarmee and 2. Armee. In essence, the complete destruction of the German south wing.
Feldmarschall Erich von Manstein entered the picture in late 1942 when he was appointed commander of Heeresgruppe Don. Beginning in February he engineered a remarkable operation that changed the course of the war in Russia. Manstein's counteroffensive destroyed or severely damaged four Russian armies and regained much of the territory that was lost. The troops that played the most important role in the offensive were three divisions of the Waffen-SS. Leibstandarte, Das Reich and Totenkopf were combined for the first time into a corps, which was commanded by SS-Obergruppenfhrer Paul Hausser, the senior commander of the Waffen-SS. The Leibstandarte participated in the defense of Kharkov, along with the elite Army division Gross Deutschland supported by three weak infantry divisions. This handful of divisions was attacked by four Soviet armies, but under command of Armeeabteilung Lanz, was able to hold the city for two weeks until it was taken by the 3rd Tank Army under the command of Lt. Gen. P.S. Rybalko.
On 14 February, 1943 the SS-Panzerkorps and the rest of Armeeabteilung Lanz withdrew from Kharkov. Almost exactly a month later, the Germans had recaptured Kharkov and destroyed or crippled the four Soviet armies that had driven them out of the city in February. The divisions that played the key role in Manstein's counteroffensive were the three divisions of the Waffen-SS. They would not re-take Kharkov for at least another Month.
In these offensives the Soviet High Command ultimate attempted was to smash German resistance and encircle the bulk of two German army groups in the south. For two months under the command of Erich Von Manstein, the German forces struck back. In a well co-ordinated counterstroke they inflicted a major operational defeat on the Soviets and stabilized the front until the summer and until Kursk.
Out of this period, and the three month period of relative calm that followed, emerged the new Red Army. Soviet offensive activity during the winter of 1942-1943 saw the Red Army test new operational and tactical techniques and experiment with forces and methods for conducting mobile armored warfare. Through victory and defeat the Red Army learnt its lesson well and thereby adopting a more conventional form of strategy and tactics. This would defeat blitzkrieg at Kursk and would achieve two years of virtually uninterrupted battlefield success, culminating in their defeat of Nazi Germany.
Installation: Download and run the installation setup file, this should install all files and associated sub directories into a ../Scenarios/Kharkov/ folder under your main Battles in Italy Folder. Start Battles in Italy up, and you should see the scenario listed under the Italy Battleset.
I would like to extent most of my gratitude towards Scott (aka Brubaker). If it wasn't for his help Kharkov would have been a nice research project and nothing else. Scott, you have my thanks! Thanks for the time you took not only to create this awesome map but for also beta testing with me through all the changes!!!
And last but not least JSS & Run5 for putting the finishing touches for all to see.
I hope you all enjoy playing this scenario as much as I enjoyed putting it together!!
Cheers, Leo (aka Von Manstein)