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An Anal ysi s of

Manst ei n' s Wi nt er Campai gn

on t he Russi an Fr ont , 1942- 43
A er spect i ve of t he
i r ect or , School
i es i n par t i al
r ement s f or t he
i es Fel l owshi p
Lawr ence L. I zzo, LTC, USA
B.S., Uni t ed St at es Mi l i t ar y Academy. . l 967
M. S. N. E. , Massachuset t s I nst i t ut e of Technol ogy, 1971
M. B. A. , Long I sl and Uni ver si t y, 1978
For t Leavenwor t h, Kansas
Appr oved f or publ i c r el ease; di st r i but i on unl i mi t ed
An Anal ysi s of
#aust:ein' s Winter Campaign
on the mussi on Pcont, 1942-43
A Pcrspccclve 01 the OperatLonal L evel of War
and I ts I i npl l cal -AI S
A paper presented t o the Oi r ector , School of
Advanced Mi l Lt.ary St udi es I n part.ia1
l ul l i l l i nent of t.he requirements for the
Advanced Opcratl ons Studl es Fellowstilp
Lawrence I,. l zzo, LTC, USA
H. S. , l i ni ted St a t e s ML l l t a ~yAcademy, 1967
M. S. N. E. , i.l;issachuaett:s 1nsti t.ute OF Technology, 1971
Ft.11.A., Long I sl and Unl vcr si ty, 1978
Fort I,c!avcnwort.h, Kansas
Appr oved for pub1 l c r cl cnse; di .srri buti on tin1imited
School of Advanced MlLiPary Studi es
Advanced Opcrat tonu1 Srudi es Fe LLowship l'rograiii
Kesn:ircI i Paper Approval -
Nainc of I ~elLow: ILTC Lawrence I,. I EZO
'1'1 t.Lc i )L Research Paper : An Analysts of Nanxt ei n' s Winter Campaign
on t:he Kussian I rront, 1942-43: A Perspectl ve OF t.he
Operational L evel of War and i t s I mplications
Studi es
I J eputy CoNmandant,
nks, .J r. ,/M.Phil.]Y)A> Coininand and General
Staf f College
( LTG kohert U. RLXasTi, MA)
Commander, Combined
Arias Center
1\11 01 Campaign un the Russian Front, 1942-4:1: A
1"''''''I)(,,'t Iv" 01 tli" Op,'rdt 101",1 Lev,,] of Har ancl Its Imp.l.icatlon" by LTC
I.nI,oJrl'llct' J.. J zzo, US Army, 8/+ pages
ThiH study is a Idstorlcal analys"is of campaign waged hy Field
von MnlHitpill on the H.ussian 8outhc.rn front during the winter 1<.J42-4'.3.
'I'll(' nludy begjnH just after the 6th Army'o encirclement in Stnlingn1tl and
four princi.pal phases of Hansteln's eampaigl1: the attempted
,..ellef of LIIC' (,til Army; tile prot.'elion of Army Group A as it diHengageti
from til(' Caucasus; tlw prevention of Mnnstein's lInes of eonIDlunications [rom
heing ('ut; and thp eOl1nt.erhlow to regain the.
The lCl-:isolls .Ienrnec.l froIII the campaign provide i1 perspectIve of battle at
lilt' opern t 1011.11 I eve l 01" war. The factors leadJng to Hanstcdn' H success are
and superior genernlship at the operationaJ level; superior
t<lcticaJ maturi..ty or the and German anti operational agility.
The "tlllly de""r lbe" till' transition [rom the operational defensive to the
0rwrflt ional orfensive and how a defender can haVE' the. in1.tIative.
lise or d('pth 1.s C'xplalncd. The of center of gravity and
C1rt <18 lIll'y pt...1rtnin to Lids campaign art! also dcscrlbC'u.
'I'll<' uLudy cone luues with lhE:' implicalionfi of tht... ll'HHonH It...nrned ror a
conflict in a centred Europcun scenario. The study points out
that N:lI1stein that victory is possible ('VC'11 wht.:Tl foreed to react
to till' l'I1l'IfiY'S plan. Till' ability or NATO to replicate, today, tile agility of
<:11ld tlH.' synchron.izatiol1 achIevf>d hy his is
qlH'sl ioned. ThC' impl leat of NATO's lack of operatlonal depth, in contr;\st"
to are descrihed. Ttl(' impact of in fo't"ce design s.Lnc(. \.Jorld
II arLO ,II so C"xplalll0.d.
Tabl e of Cont:entx
Cliaprer 1:
Chapt.e r 6 :
Chapl:cr 7;
I ntroducti on....... ................................... I
.\laiisI .ein's Campaign ................................... 1
Gcrinon Oper oti ond Overvi ew.. ......................... I
Pliatie I .: Operatl on WLNl ' b;l W<' l " l ' l <l <. ....................... t:!
Soviet: Opc~; i tl ~i i al . 6 Overvtew.. .........................
?lansteln's vs. Hi tter's V l cw of Oper at i onal Art.. ..... Y
I 3aI :tles on the CII1.r Rl vcr.. ........................... 14
Operill: ion SATUKN. ..................................... 17
Phase 2: Protecting Lhe Rear o t Army Group A ......... 2%
f+I :h I 'aiizer hri ay's Mobt Le I k f t i n s e. ..................... 2!I
Loss di i d I kxapture of Tatstnskayn.. ................... 1')
Struggl e oE Ariny Uetachincnt l l ol l .l dt.. ................. 26
l'liase 3: Keepi ng . t h e LOCs Open.. ..................... 27
Sovi et Operati onel Overvi ew........................... 27
Operatlon STAR........................................ 28
Operatton GALI,OI'. ..................................... 29
?I ansI :etn I .cap-lrog~ 1st. Panzer hrni y.. ................. 'IO
1st Conrerel i ce wi th HLt.Lsr ............................ 32
Voronezh Pr onl : Tokes Kli,irkov.. ........................ 9J,
Soutliwosi: Front Surges Forward.. ...................... 3 M
Phase 4 : The Counterstroke.. ......................... 41
2d Conf er ence w i t h l l i tl er ... .......................... 41
Counterstroke Regaiiis tI io 1i l I .t.i attve.. ................ 4%
Lessons 1,earned.. ..................................... 46
Opcrat tonal Lcve L T.e;ldernhlp. ......................... 46
l acti ci i l Maturi1:y. .................................... 52
~ ~ L i t y 55 ...............................................
o~l er ~l l : i ol l dtllit tati ve. ............................... 56
Urpth. ................................................ 'it<
Center of Gr;i vi ty a~i d 0perdI :iona.l Art. ................ 61
tlllpl icilrlons. ......................................... 05
LnLtiai:ivc and Agl LLt y . . .............................. 67
Sync1ii:onizatlon ....................................... 7'I
I)cpl:ll................................................. I : ,
D, .............................................. I I
Hi bl i .ograpl i y.. ........................................ ti 2
i I
Chapter l ; 1nt:roductl on
The wtnter campaign conducl:ed by Fi el d Marshal Eric11 von Manstel n on t he
K uvshn sourlierii fr ont was one of the Inoat br i l l i ant of World War l [. I t La a
cl.<issFcexample of the art of war practi sed at the operati onal l evel ;
speci f l cal l y, I t demonstrates t he use of the mobi l e def ense t o wrest t he
opcra1:loiia1. 1ni t:tattve from an enemy v as t l y superi or i n numeri cal strength.
Tho campalgn can bc thought of as begi nni ng wi t h the enci rcl ement of the
(;crinan 0th Ar my i n Stal l ngrad i n Lat e November, 1942, and endi ng three months
L i ter wit.11 the Germans recapturi ng Kharkov, the 4th largest ci ty I n the Soviet:
Uni on.
Because the campaign i s wedged between two si gni f i cant German def eats of
sl .ri i tegl c I .mporrancc, Sral i nyrsd and Kursk, i t has been overshadowed and not
rrcel ved the i i treutl on l t deserves. But an anal ysi s of thl a campaign has
oppt i cabi l l t y today f or several reasons. Fi r st , the pri nci pal actor, Fi el d
Elarstial Krlch von Manstel n, 1s consi dered an operati onal geni us, possi bl y
Cerniaiiy's best.' He pl ayed a si gni f i cant: rote i n dcvel opi ng the German pl an
ot at:txck througli 1:lic Ardelinaa 111 1940 which l ed to t h e total col l apse ot'
France. Ilc won h t s i uarsl i al sl i i p w i t h LL bri l l .i ant campaign l n the Crilnetl Ln
1941. An anal ysi s of t k l s cainlxiigii w i l l de1nonsl:rate the Etnexl: example of
lcadi?rsliL p at the operati onal l evel .
Seci md, the campaign La a good cxainple of the operati onal Level of war.
l'hc southern f l ank of 1:lic Kussi an f ront can be consl dered a theater of
opcr;i tl ons by I tsel f , and this campaign repreeent.s a series of si gni f i cant
mi l i tar y operati ons w i t h t he ul ti mate stra1:egLc goal of retai ni ng the 1)onetz
Hasin, a regi on of southern Kuss tau 1-hougtit co have strategi c and cconoi ni c
importance by Hit l er.
Thi rd, thi s campaign repl tci rtes fiome of the very condl.t:Lolll; we [;ice L n
YATO t:oday. Z ~ L I I I S C ~ ~ I I found himself initially 011 110t h ttie st:rategLc and
opcrati onal defensl ve. German forces along I:he enti re soutl i cr n 1:rorit were
ht?aVl1y ~o111-uuiuberod i l l Illen and armor. M;instcln had t o c o p wi t h pol i ttcoi
const r ai nt s; e. g. , Hi1:ler's l nsi stence on holding onto al l occupied territory.
Tl i L s exacerbated Manxt cl n' s yrobleins si nce i t: restri cted hLs operati onal
inaneuvf:r. :And Ni i ns t ei n had t o deal wi t h an al l i ed ormy; by t t i e cnd o the
wint:er he woul d have Kusi anl ans, I tal i ans and Ilungaricins under hts command.
Vourtii, and i n; i ybe most: i mportant, this cam~ialpn of f ers an excel l ent :
c!xampLe ~ o t he 1:riinsit:ion I roa the defense I:o t h e offense. Ever si nce
Chusewi t e sai d that: " t h e deEensive form of warfare i s LntrLnsLcalLy st r onger
t han t h e offensLve,"2 fiome have found this di f f i cul t. t:o reconci l e wi ti l l 1:lie
InoKc mr.ural predl sposttl on to at:tack. hut Clausewitz :also said that. you
should wage i i defcrisive cainpaigri wi t h offensi ve bat t l es3 arid 1:h Ls ciiniloalgn
cl earl y shows Iiow N:insteln parri ed t h e Sovi et at:l:acks, I J S ~tihe tact Lcal
of f ense whenever opportunl ty f or counterat:tacks arose and t:lirotigli t he
cumu1at:Lve c l f e c t regained che opcr~ti onal .I.:iLti:itive. licuce the more
islporturlt quest .Lon, rattier than which form of warfare Ls st-rongcst, 1s how do
you eff'6:ctl vel y traristttori from one to t h e other .
'rilts; paper w i l l f i rst present: a review of Hai l stei n's wl nter campal gn. I t .
wl 1 1 then alin1yz.r. he l essons 1.e~i r ned froiii the campatgn, focusing on why
i .l ar i r t : c~nwas succcssfiil. mid the Sov Let:; wcrt! n o t . I t concl udei i wi t h ii !;t.iidy
oI ti l t? Iinp1icat:Loiis of ~:iiosc lcssons learned as appl.led t o the t:eiic~:( o t
Airlalid UaI:t,le Uoc~.rinc i.n ii current NATO enviromnent.
(;crm;iii .onal Overview
A s Gccman Army Group Sout h ndvauced c?ast through 1 . 1 1 ~ Ukri i l l i e duri ng the
siiminer of 1942, Lts ar.tack began to dtverge. Two sepi i r ak Army Groups were
1 orinad, Army tiroup A, which turned sout l i and attacked through the Caucesus
w1i . h 2 t i erman armten and Army Group 8 , which attacked o n a broad f ront towards
t he I)on mid St aLLngr ad on the Volga. The enti re southern Eront became
overextended, ( t A i l s was to becoine a characteri sti c of both Sovl et and German
operati ons) mid of f ered the Sovi ets an opportunl ty to l aunch thel r wi nter
co~ui l :crol l eosl vc. l ntr Lnted o n 19 November 1942, i t had al ready achteved the
eiicl.r(:lemenv. of over 200,000 Gerroan sol di ers t n Stal tngrad by the time
Manst:cln was moved Crom the I.enlngrad f ront to assume command of the newly
I ormed Arlliy Croup boil on 2h November 1942 and to ti e together Army Groups 13
and A. IJ nder hl s cornrnaiid he was gi ven the German ht h Arny i n Stal tngrad, 4t h
Panzer Army and KurnanLan Thi rd and Fourth Armies. Mansteln qui ckl y real Lzed
1:111? crl si s he faced represented a dectstve campaign and that "The i ssue was 110
I.rmger t he fate of a stngl e Army but of the enti r e southern wing of the Er ont
mid ul ti matel y of a.11 the Germail arintes i n the east."4 Tlic overextended
German Fr o n t formed a wide arc curvi ug Ear 1.0 the c as t to Stal i ngrad. I ts
southern bouudary i n the Cauc;isus touched the Hlack Sea on the west and ran
eas t t4)wards the Casplan Sen whi l e factng south. I n ef f ect there were two
huge salirnl:s, one st.retcl i l ng south l nto the Caucasus and one cast. i nto
Sta1i i i ~r;uI . T hew sol tents provi ded the Sovi ets ;in opportuntty to cut of f
several German armies and L nf l l ct ii deci si ve def eat even more si gntfl cant than
Sl:;i 1L ngrad .
' Tl w Gerliian 1Lnes of coinliiunLcilt:Loiis ( LOC) f or tht? enr i r c sout:lierii win:: of
t . 1 ~c; i sI cr Ii L ronl. crossed 1. 11~ I hepr Ri ver at DnepropeLrovsk and Zaporozhye.
' I' IICYCt w o crossi ngs wcrt? about: 440 lrom St al t ngr ad and 501) miles from
t : Ii c eiist:(!rii wl ng 111 tlie Caucasus f ront; yet. I:liey were onl y 260 miles from t hc
ci wi y on t.lie I)on. The I.0C for Army Gr oup A and the ri ght wlng of Army Group H
. i L s i ) ri m ILl1rough Kostov. T hi s f ragi l e l i nk to t.he Caucauus wan 375 milev to
Arniy Group A ' s east : wtnz 2nd even 2. 50 miles to the 4th Panzcr Army which was
I:o make t:he maLn etl ort f or the rel i ef of Stal l ngrad. Hut agai n, i t was onl y
185 niitcs to the eoc!iny brtdgchead on the Don where the Kumanians had al ready
bec!n overrun on 19 Manst ei n coul d comparat LveLy recal l how hi s
'innor c or ps L I I thc? uiienirig days of Barbaroua i n J une 1941 had covered 170
I iiiles agai nst rel arl vel y stronger opposi t i on i n onl y 4 days!
I r: d1.d not: take Manstein iong to gr asp t he gravi ty of the sl tuati on. As
on(? o f lits contenporarles l ater put Lt , " L t may well he sai d t h at this was the
most di f f tcul t mi ssi on gl ven to a general Ln the course o f tlie war ." 6 I t was
to hLs cr edi t that he had a vi si on appropri ate f or 1:be task at hand. The
i nl asi on gtvei i to hi m by I l i tl er was I:n rel i eve the 6th Army i n Stal i ri grad,
hri ng the enemy attack t:o n hal t and recapture l ost t er r i t ~r y . ~Thi s was ;i
short: si ghted vi ew. Manst ei n real i zed t.he dcci sl ve operati onal opportunl ty
facLng the Sovi ets, principally because o l thei r numeri cal superl ori ty acr oss
1 . l ~ fr onl : and t he f act that. t:hey were cl oser than hi s owti f orces t o 1:he vtral
I.i.nks on the hieper and aL Rost:ov. Theref ore, Manstein envi si oned the
campaLgn wquenccd Lnto f our requtred phoseu:
( 1) Kel l ef of btl i Army.
( 2) Keep the rear of Army Group A Eree whi l e it di sengaged from the
~: ~l uci l sl l u.
(' 3) L'revcnt. t he German l i nes of co~nmuni cati onsto the southern wi ng fro.n
bei ng " t i ed of f " .
( 4 ) Del i ver a counterbl ow to the enemy and regai n the L nl ttati ve.
To control the E O K C ~S of lits Army Group, Manstein used the 41:h Paiizur Arliiy
iis 111s rtgti t wing and the Rumanian ThL rd Army 011 IiLs Left. On 5 Ueceinber lie
loraecl Army I)etachmeril: ( A D) Hul Ltdt I:Ocontrol most of t hc sc;i tl :ercd ;itid
rel nforcl ng German u1iit.i . 9 A n Ariny k t ac l i i nenr , or Armeeabl:t: L Lung LII Gi !ri um,
wi i s a twnpor.iry command esrnbl l shed t o colit.rol t wo or Iuore corps and di d not
II:IVE t:l11! f ul l start' of an Army I l cadquar t er s.
:l an:,tri n' s vi si on o f 1:1it? campai gn, Imwcver, wiiu r i ot: t:Iii! smc vi s Lon i i s
lij .rL er's. Hil:Ler would exacerbate XansteLn's cliallciigcs by 1iixLsl:lng on
hotdi ng rtpl dl y o n t o (111 cerrl tortal gains; and i,nitLal.Ly he would al l ow no
wtthdrnwo L of Corces Erom tlie Caucasus regl on.
Soviet: Operati onal Overview
Ove1'lald a&nt nst . tilts vi stoi i by bLnsl:eLn of t he i:oliducI: of the campaign
wi i s a tiertes of vast Sovter operiitCons. Stati n control Led tI ic!:;e opar at Lons
I . l ~c, ~u~l i f.he s t a l f oC t he Nigh Comaand of the Sovlcl: hrmcd Vorces (STAVKA) mid
STAV~~I at: tlic var Lous l:roiits. Tlie Frout.s ~l i i i l : would pL:iy .I wpresci i taI :tves
rol e 111 t: l i i s caiupaign were, froiu iiort:li I:O sout:R: Bryai i sl ~ Front coi nmi ~i i ~~l i ! d I J Y
l;cner,il l<eut:ec, Vorouezli Front commanded by Cerier;.iL GoLl kov, Soiif:tlwesI: I'roiit
comoiandcd by GeneraL V ~I . i i t L n, 1)on Front coiumnnded by Gciicr.1L I ~OI U J SL I OV . ' ~~I; iand
I.~IC S t a L Lliyriid ( l at er South) Front coinm;m<led by Ccnrrd t Yurcmenko. ' 1 ' 1 ~
reducti on of 1:he SI XLl.ngrad pockot was fL rst pri ori ty. Codcnaincd KI NG, Llils
operatl on would be co8iduct:ed i n st ages by I:he Stal l ri drai l arid I)on 1;ronl:s.
r \l most si mri Lt~i i eoi i s1y, the Sovicl:s would l aunch Oper:iI:loii SA'I'LJKN on
L O December 194%. 'I'lits p h n , approved on 2 December, woul d IIS~! I:Iic Soiifhwcsl
mid Voronczli Fronts t o (:rusli 1 . 1 1 ~ I t-i i l L:UI U t h Arniy i i i i d Army UCI . ~cJ ~mi !nt( A D)
I I o L L i.dI:. 'Phi!; woul d i i Lao ri?Itlove Crri nai i pre:rsurt: expi?cteJ 1.0 i : i ~nc I:o tl i i ? :Ii d
0 1 6th twmy L I I S t a I Lngrnd. L n I:IiLa opccatton' s secoiid plia:;o, 1:hc Soi1tI iwc?~j 1.
t r r ont would dri ve t:ow.iriis ~uvt ovto cut: of f German f orces i n ~ I I C ~aucnsus.l O
llot 11 t IN*!;I! L onti ;iclil.eved 1l mi t .cd swctfs!; L n Ueccniber.
1.11 .l al i uary, 194' 1, t.he Sovi ets contl nued thei r counterof f ensl ve hopi ng to
produce a t:otal r:oI.L;~pseof tierman f orces i n Kusslaii by Eirsl: destroyi ng the
souther1I win.:. The Vor ol i czl l Front l aunched an oPf enstve agai nst t.he Hungari an
%d Army :ind rwiniints OF the I taL lan 8t h Army al ong the upper Don. A t the same
t Liiir t:he Suul.hwcst Pcoot: drove towards the I hi eta. To t he south, the South
F ront ptisht!d towards Kostov and i n the Caucasus other Sovi et f orces pressured
Arniy Croup A. 1.11 hi : ( : .J anuary t he Hryansk and Voroneah Fronts at1:empted to
cl i ci rcl c I.he 2nd (;er!nan AKI I I Y of Army Group 8 , f orci ng i t to wi thdraw wi t h aany
unl 1.s surrouuded. Soviet: S U C C ~H S ~S l ed STAVKA to overesti mate L t s
c;ipibI . l . i t L es ; hi i d i n J anuary it. optiin1st:icaLly approved t wo pl ans, GALLOP arid
S'L'hH. 1.n GALLOP, the Sourliwctlt Front, begl nni ug 29 J anuary, would dri ve from
Stnvobcl sk deep i nto the rear of Army Group Don on towards St al i no and
Y.trLupol on t:he Sea of Azov mid al so Cor tlie I hepr crossi ngs at Zaporoehye.
On I February, tlw Vor oneah Front would Launch Opcrstl on STAK to recapture
Iielgorml, Rharkov and Kursk and gencri al l y pus11 1:he l ef t f l ank o the southern
(:crrnan wing hack westwards. The South Front would support by destroyi ng
(; f orces vi ci ni ty of Rostov and attacki nS al ong the north coast of the
Sea of Azov. OLhrr Y upportillg oECenses were t o be conducted sCinu1,taneously at
I.enLngrad, i n t:he Caucasus, and agalnst the Demyansk pocket. These ambi ti ous
oper:itions were based un Sovi et estimates that the eii1:it-e rl ght wi ng of t he
tiermiin Ar sy in souI: h Kussi a was near total col l apse iis t he resul t of the
~!nclrcl.eincnt.ill: St; i L i ngr ad and the contl nuous I .ighl:ing oC December 1942 and
.I,inudry 194'3. The s1:ral:egic goal was to enci rcl e the southern armies bcl:oro coul d wI .tti dri i w hack across t h e Unepr, thus i nf LLctLng j ust the deci si ve
d et c at . that Moi1st.e L n f eared. l1
T hi s, t hen, coinpletes the broad ov er v i ew of the si t uat i on Manst ei n found
on 1:he Geriii;iii souf : t i er, iund the gener al concept ol- operati ons I-tic Sovt c1: s
woul d USI! 1-11 axp1.o L t tliali sl t uar Lori. Before derrcrlblng t he acr ual phases of
1.110 campai gn, i t ~ 1 . 1 1be uael uL 1.0 r ev i ew Manst ei n' s s1:yLc 01: coiniiiaiid and
conr r i i sl . il. w i t h tliat of his boss, Adol f l l i tl .er .
Chapter 2
MansteLn's vs IiltLer's V i ew of Operatl one1 Art
kl i ~ns~. i ~I n lle env1:~l ori eda mobi l e type d c f e~i s ef or t:lw southern wl ng.
beti eved l i l y; and subord Lni i t e uni ts had an advantage tn operattonal
111obL1Ll.y over the encaiy.12 I n FM 100-5, wc cal l t hi s concept " agi l i ty" , f or
wlinl Man s t el n was r ef er r l og to WHS tlu: German abl l i t y to read the battl ef tel d
,i nd r ci i ct I:o 11:s ci rcuastances r as t er than t he enemy. The German mechanl zed
I '.iiizi?c l .ori : es, t l i i i excellt!nr. German staf f s, and rhe i ni t l at t ve demonstrated by
Gerlilari of f t cer s at all. Levels ciich contri buted I:o tlils agi l i ty. However, I n
Maiisl:eIn's vi ew, he iil:t.ctbuted the German success to t wo pri nci pl es of
te; i der si i i p: 1:)
( I ) Al ways ~ O I I ~ I K V . opcratlons cl astl cal l y and resourcef ul l y;
( 2 ) Gi ve every possi bl e scope t o the i ni r l attve and sel f - suf f i ctency of
coisinanckrs at al l l evel s.
Cori tr;i ry L O the percepti on that the I 'russtan system o war f ostered :I
" I ) I hi d obedl ence" mental i ty In i t s offi cer corps, Manstei n t ook pr l de thal:
SlJlilcl.hLllg L n the (;eri nanl c I i eri tasr. f ostered an i ndi vi dual i ty on the parn r J i
coi i i i n; i ndcrs In bat:tle. Coupl ed wLt.h ;i predtsposi ti on to assuI ne r i sks, this
~!n;ibLed German unttn to exp1.oL t I:he opportuni ti es i nherent i n mechanle~?d
war l ar e and Ih i d operat tons.
1.t 1.s L n t er es t l n g t o nol:e that Mans t el 11 recognl zed that hi s abi l i t y to
grant i ndependence to subord Ln.ite comanders was possi bl e I:o a l ar zc de$f ee
I mxuse I.lict-e exi st ed 1.hroughout ti w Gcrlnan mi L i tary hi erarchy "a cori sl sterl cy
<)I : out Look" .1nd t.lie presupposi ttori that "al l members of the mi l l tar y hl erarcl i y
ar e Linbued w i t h certai n racttczil or operati onal axioms," produced by the
: i c ~ i o o ~ t : l w German (;enera1 ~t at f . 14 11: t s j u s t this type of similar of
cul .tura1 bi ns i n 1:eriiis of tlilnkiiig 01: oyeral: tonal art: wl i i cl i i s ttw
rej uvenated goal of the new operattoals iii:inual, FM 100-5, and t l w Arniy'!: School
of Adv:iiiced ?l i l l ti i ry Studi es at Fort. Leiivenworth.
On the other I ieirid, IiL1:ler's practi se of exerci si ns coininand and con1:rol was
lniiicli di l ferenl : t l i i i n i4einst:eln's. Hi tl er had, over several . yaars, assullied t he
pri .nci pa1 rote i n dtrecri ng i ntl l tary operat.toos. Tl i l s evol utton bcgan i n l Y . ' l l l
wlieu H i t : Ler aholislied t h e War Mi nl stry and bi!cn~ne Coinsonder Ln Chi ef , Geriiian
Armed Forces. Af t er the 1 Y 4 L oIIEens Lvc I n 1tussi.n bogged down i n I kccirber,
I l i I: Ler Cocced Gcricrcrl von t3raiicliitsc:li, Cominaiidi!~. Ln C hi e I , Gcrniiln Army, LO
ru!!:irc rind nfisuined I:k ro Lc I iiinsclf. i n September 1 Y 4 2 hc repl aced (;oiiernl
i l a taler, 1:he Chi ef of St af f of the Army 11lgIi Coininiind (Oberkoiiimando der Iiccres
(OKH)), w i t h General Zei tzl er, i i I I UCI I j ui i i or general . A s ;i resul t, HLrlcr
I.i)ok cliiirge of operattons on I'he (!:istern f r ont 1.11 more and iniore det al l . ,
i i i t!ddl .i ng i n thc day to day operati ons uf ijuhordinatc u n i t s and t l i i i s s t t f l I.ii,?
I n i r LUI: I. vc . I d an i nhertwl . di strust of t.lie ticriaan ticoeral St af I and 1 hLs
t i Lowly grew 1.nt.o cootclupt. T hi s dated froiii I - l i i ! iIoubl.s the (:anera L S1:;il.f I i i i gl
:iliowri to ~iiostoE HirLer's earl y plans mi l ambitioiis, from I:lw Si i d~!l : ei i l .i i i d
t:iirougli tlic invnsloii ol : France and Po Land. His successes oiity fueled 11 Ls
c o n l Liience Ln titaself, rnl:lier than i n thein. T hi s was re1nl:orced dur Liid 1:11~!
whter o f 194L- 42 whtxi l l i tl er i gnor ed I i L e ndvtsers ;ind iiis1st:ed o n d I :;i i i i i ~.L c.i l .
res1sl:ancc tti rouyti oul . 1:lie Rus!; ti i n wi nl xr ;ill. along flic lroiil.. Ile wo u l d atl ow
no imajot wl.rlidrow~i1. ari d ordered al l . 1:errLI:ory hetd. 'Clits worked and isay Iiiivv
saved 1:lw 6criniiii Arlny f roi n a cat:astrophi c, Napolc!ilii I 1.k~rcrrc,i l .. Ilowcvcr, L I
workod f or tlic wrong rciisoiis. 1.11 I)ci:ember of 1 9 4 L 1.11~ Ceriniio Ariny l ~ i ~ t l no I ncido
prepiirriI LOI I S l or <I winl:er wlt1idraw;i L ; 110 11~' sLtLons had bcen prepared I owiirds
ri l e rcdr; .in11 wL t:li lie I rozco gro~iridhardl y aiiy coul d hc I >i i l L t . 11;id I l i ~~y
begt i n <I 111.3jor wlt.lidi:aw;iL, t h ey n;iy wel t Iiavc losl. t:lieLr i:olicsiori iiiid suftcrci l
;I imajor col l .i pse. But this convinced tl i tl er that there was no need to
vol ti i i t~ri l ygLvc up ground 110 the So v l et s and he pl anned the same strategy f or
the wi nter of 1942.
I n October, 1942, l l i tl er i ssued Operati ons Order 81, provl dl ng overal l
giildaiicc or the upcoming wi nter. k s l n there would be no f l exi bi l i ty; no
room f or maneuver; no al l owance f or i ni ti ati ve by hi s Army commanders. Ln I t
he ordered al l wi nt er posi ti ons hel d at al l costs; no wi tl i drawal s were
al l owed; encl rcl ed f orces were t o stay put unti l rel i eved. He made every
commander, dowii to squad l evel , personal l y responsi bl e to him f or the
executi on of these or dcr s. 15 Thi s doctri ne ref l ected both a l ack of tK U l 3t i n
111s subord1nai:eS and al so a al l ure t o appreci ate the val ue of i ni ti ati ve at
the l owest l evel s. Most: i mportantl y, i t contrasted wi th Manstelin's vi si on of
how he needed t o i ght and al most cost the Germans t he campaign.
I lavlng revi ewed the handi caps Manstein was to work wi th, we w i l l now
proceed clirough each phase of the campaign.
Chapter 3
Phase 1: Operati on WINPISKGEWI'C'I'EK ( " Mi nt er Gale")
Al though t h e focus of t hi s paper does not i ncl ude a detai l ed di l i cussl on of
t hc German errors l eadl ng to the total anni l i l l ati on of t he 0 t h Army 111
St-al l nsrad, a bri cf summary wi l l suf f i ce for the overal l perspectl ve of the
whter campaign. Af ter the i ni t i al paral ysl s at OKH caused by the SovLc?t
enci rcl ement of Stal i ngr ad had worii of f , Hitler i nstructed Paul us not: to break
out arid to hol d fast. Paul us had requested frccdoiu of act i on and would have
pref erred I:O at t ei npt i i breakout. Some have cr i t i ci zed h1.m lor not sel zl ng the
opport.unLty cI.I:her bcfore l l i tl er ordered him not I:o or i n spl t e of t he
or der . 16 Paul us was urged by hi s generals to abandon the ci ty. General
ZeLt Ler t:rled desperatel y to get Hl tl er to agree to a wi thdrawal from the
Volga back behind the bend I n the Don. Manstei n al so f el t that an attempt t o
hol d o u t w m dangerous; that: r el i ef coul dn't begi n untl l earl y 1)eceinber and
then onl y i f rei nf orcerents materl al i zed as proruised. Hl tl er proinlsed
Nansteln rei nforcements of 6 I nf antry and 4 panzer di vi si ons, pl us ot l i ec
supporti ng uni ts; however, onl y two l nf antry di vi si on wer e iinmedletely
avai l abl e.17 When Goerlng assured Hitler that he coul d resuppl y the b t h Arn~y
by dl r and proinlsed a dal l y del i very of 600 tons, Hl tl er madc up his mind and
i nsi st ed that al l uni ts ndhcre t o the phl l osophy of Operat:ion Ordcr 1:
absol utel y not one step back. l 8
I n Hi tl er's vi ew, to retreat froin Stal l ngr d
would be t : ~gi ve up the decl sl ve gaius of the enti re 1942 cam~i ai gnaid
St al i ngr ad would entol l inuch gceatxr c o s t s to retake i n 1943. 19
Kequi ced, theref ore, to rel l eve Stal l nSr ad, Hanstel n ile!;Lgnat:ed 4th l'aflzci.
Army ils thc! ni ai n ef l ur l : . 11: w0ul.d att:l ck 011 I :hC eas t Si de Of 1.11a) I h J n , 111 .I
~mr i : l ~tw: t d1rcct:l un from I he vl ci nl ty of Kotel nl kovo. L1.s prLiicLpo1 t or ct : WA!I
I i i i e 57th Paiizer Corps consi sti ng ot ' the! fit:h and 23rd Paiwer 1)ivir;loris ( l i ~~d
hOO toiis promised by Gocring and t:he stcuatl on was obvl ousty gettl og worse.
>laiisteLii asked Httl er f or the 16th Motorl zed I nf antry Ui vi si on, then on hi s
rj.ghl: f l ank but i n Army Group A. Hitler ref used, not wantl ng 1.0 1nLt Lat e any
actl ons which coul d preci pi tate a wi thdrawal from the Caucasus. Mansteln
persl sted i n reference I:o the 17th and 16th retnforcei nent:s, 1nsl st:l ng that: t:he
Germans coul d l u no way l aunch an of f ensi ve back t o the Uon hecore mid .J anuary
at the earl i est and I n any case, WI NTEUGEWI TTER had f:o be consl dered f i r st
prl ori ty. Hi tter rel ented and gave Manstei n the 17t:Ii b u t not: the L6th.23
The 57t h Pauzer Corps, retnf orced w i t h the 17th, mnde bcrter progress
durl ug t:he 1it?x1: f uw days. By the 19t h .lt had i l rtvcn t:o wi t l i i r i 35 miles oL r he
pocket. I 'lansteiu dt d not t hi nk they coul d push f urther and he ordered l'aulus
to be pr[.p~red t o break out to the southwest. Tr uck convoys wl t h 2000 tons of
suppl i es were lnovtng behind 57th Corps, ready to suppl y 6 t h Army as soon as
the l l nkup was made. But Manstei n and Paul us sti l l needed Hitlcr's approval
f or a breakout attei npt and I l l tl er never came cl ose t o maktiig that deci si on.
He di d provi de a SS Dtvi sl ori from Army Group A to Manstein :is rel nf orcement,
but he di d not consent t o tin evacuati on of Seal Lngrad. He used o report from
Paulus rhat 6th Army onl y had f uel f or 12 mlles as an excuse to stwi d firm
wi th hi s earl l er l nstructl ons. Whether 6th Army coul d have ef f ected a l l i i kup
i f they attempted a breakout 1s questi oi i nbl e; what t H unqucstl onabte I s onl y
t r s ulti.morc Cnt c of total anni hi l atL on, gl veri the sparseness of I ts resuppl y
r tl sul ts. Thus, a1:t:er the 19t h of I Dweroher l ts chances for survLvaL decre;ised
dal l y. That day marked the cl osest that operati on WINTti:KtiI~WL'I'TER roiild COIIIC
t o succcedi nz.
Uattles on t:lie Chi r River
A s 1ni l i cated, Sovi et attacks alonz the Chi r Ri ver at t he heghni ng of
Ili?cember by t h e 5t:h 'rank 11r;uy as part: of Operati on Saturn d l sr upted r1,ilistcln's
pl an to use the 4 8 t h l'anzer Corps iis i i siipporl:ing at t ac k Tor t.he 57th.
6attles of the Chir River -Dee 1942
!4i:25 , I
0 5 I 0 I S 10 15
I lowevcr, t i l e iict:ions of 1:lie 48th Corps In deal i ng w i t h this crl si s ar e i l l 1
c?xcel l ent. exainplo i n iiilcrocos Lni 0 1 t:Jic! inobllc defense used by Manste L I I ; i d
tl i crcl ore ;ire usef ul to revi ew i n s o w dc! l .at L . The 48th Panzer Corps
uinsis1:ed of t he 3361:h I i i Eantry Ul vl si on, !:he 7t h [mttwaf f e Ptel d I),24
; und the 1l l :h f anzer Ol vi sl on commandi!~l hy Cencriil. lsalck. The Corps Chl er of
Staf f was General voti Mel l enthi n. Che 48th Corps uued the 336t.h and 7t: l i I:O
;lPEeml al ong t he ri ver and t he l l t.11 Ui vtsi oi i at; a inobllc r es er v e, 1ocat:ecl I:o
t:~ie rear ot ttie tntal i try. 011 7 ~)ecem~)er t he ltussian 1st Armorc!d Corps2j
crossetl 1:he Cl i i r and was dr.tviiig south, f a r 1.0 I:iie rwir ot German rtvcr
deferises. The 1lt.h wus ordared to defeat: rhl s 1:hreat. Af t er meeti ng i i l i d
steiiiiuiiii: tl i e Sovtel: advance on 7 December, Balck regrouped his f orces tliat:
ni gl i t to i voi d h;ivLn& I:,) tiiiike i i 1roiit;iL at:tack. At dawn on A I)e(:cinl)tr lie used
a Lanzt!rdccniidtar Itel: LinenI: l:or u I iolding nt.!:ack Iroiu !:he suuI:Iiwc!~t, gL;iced l i l s
dnr L ai rcraf ~.guiia aud ei i gi neer bnt:t;ilion as a btocking Corcc 1.0 tI w K ussi hti
soiitiie:isI: illid attacked t he Sovi ets wel t Ln the rear w t t l i a Paozt ! r Rcglincilt.
Tiiicing them complete.Ly by sur pr i se, t he Fanzer Kegilnenl: F t r s t wtpcd 0111. i i Loni ;
i:oluinn of lmotorLzed i .i i fantry caught cmnLiig froin t l i c nort-11, 1:hcn tortied obi I iic
r ear ur the Sovi et iirinor catchiiig heis is i n a vtcr wi t h the Lnrizrrt:ri!ii;~diers.
1:Lft:y-three Soviet: liariks were knoc:lteil out and I:he Soviel: Armored Corps was
delueted. li111i1l.1 ti i cti cal vi ctori es of thi s sort: wer e typtcnl l or rlie Gcrinaji!;
t:lirougliout. tlit! Ihlciik days OF Ikcctnher, .J anuary, and izcbruary, illid 1iad :I
~: I I I I I U ~~I I ~. V C effect 111wrcstl ng tho oper;i tl o~~al . inil:L;11.tvc away Croln t l i c
Sovi ets. l:lw essenti al i ngrei l I .ent was 1:lir conccntratl on or scar(:#! (kr mi n
,.muor I nto i i iiiobile reserve which wi i s wred to desllroy Sovtcl: pciirt.riit L O I I S i n (I
picceme;iI. lashLon; tiii.6 exp11,tted AllI and (; t i i ct I cal : ; ki l .I .i 1.0
t.I ieir i i t mos t .26
'The L L th cont Lnlled 1:o be used iis ii "i l re bri gade", destroytng one So v l c t
peliel.ratton rll t:er iuiot I wr. Sovtets broke through the .'):)Oth'? rl ver dcfei i ses
; i t t.wo l ocal t ons about 1.5 mlles apart. on 11 Uecember. After a nl ght march,
t he L l tl i deat:royt?d one f orce at: dawn on t he 12th, then mdrched agai nst tlie
ot her Sovtet brldgeheod, compr essi ng tt that s a w day. On the 13th as lt: was
about: 1.0 at:teinpt: to dest .r oy t h t s bri dgehead compl etel y, anot her tilireat broke
out. on Lr s Clank. Agnl n turl i i ng, i t deal t thls For ce a knock out punch .md
tl i e~i returned to dt.t:m:k I:he bri dgehead. before I t colild e1FinLnate thi s
I )rldgehe;id lr. W;LR orderod to move l nto a new posi tl on to c r os s t:lie Don and
support WCNPIIIU;I'.WLTTLK. A s It: di d so on the 15th and 16tt1, the Sovi ets
Laiincliccl thei r of f ensi ve agntnnt tlie I t al i an 8th Army and Army Detachment
I l ol Ltdt, on t:Iw 4Ut:li's left. f l ank, and al so ogatnst Clic 48th i tsel f on t h e
Chi c. On the 17tt1, t:hc 11t h drovi? one inore Sovi et penetrat:l on of the 336th
Imck I:U the r i ver . On t he L H t h , MeLlenthLn tol d hi c k of a Sovtet ar mor ed
cnr ps whl ch had luade a d(!ep penet r at i on of the LuftwaEle Ui vtHLon about 12
mI L i ! s to ii1.t; northwest. Halck moved h l s reg1inent.s at night. and f el l on the
Sov l c t . s , agatn at dawn, astii& one Lnfantry r egi ment as a bl ockti i d f orce ;and
t he o t h er t:o protect the exposed f l ank OF hi s Paneer Regiment as i t attacked
Lnt:o t he ericifiiy r ear . Bal ck artacked t wo separate armor columns 111 sequel i ce,
dest.roytng t1ie.n pLei:eineal and l nf l l cted 65 losscs whi l e sustai ni ng noiie
1 . 0 111s own 25 t anks. Halck conti nued to use the f ew tanks of his di vl si on as
i l I nohlLe r c s er v c f or the Corpu unti l the 11th I Dl v l s l o n was ordered on 22
I)ecetiiber I:o move to Ti i tntnskaya, 90 mi l es to the west t o handl e a new threat-
t:hc possi hl e l oss of: K o s t o ~. ~~
Operat: ion SATLJKN
Sovi et pl ans t o expl ol t the l ni ttal success of the enci rcl ement of
St:;iLlngrad Lncluded t.wo new operati ons, KI NG and SATURN. KL NG was the pl an to
reduce t:he St aLt ngr ad pocket I n phases by the Don aiid Staltngrad f ronts. The
Sout:liwosI: Front: would conduct: SATUKN, a plan whi ch, i n i ts ELrst phase,
cnvi si oned I:hc desL ructi on of the 1t;i l i .an 8th Army and Army I)et i i cIi l nci i t 11,) I ti dt
a.Ld!ig a 150 mi l e front: of the I)oo and Chi r ri vers. l o i ts 2d phase, t he
f r ont' s 2ud echelon woutd expl oi t: towards I(osI: ov, capt:urLng that ci1.y w1.I.b 1:hc
sl:rat:t?gic ohj ecti vc of ; thun tri l ppl nt: 1:lie relnliiints oE Army Group I)ou and A n u y
C~:oup A i n I:IIC? (:;i~icausus, j ust ;is Munstctn fc.1rt.d.
Howcvcr, several l a c t o r s cootrtbuted I:o a reduct:ton I n l . 1 ~r;cope of 1 . l ~
operatton betore 11: commenced. Vlrst, i ni t:tnl iittilclcs against: tlie Stnl i ngro~l
~xi cket convi nced S'I:AVl(h that t t needed t:o ecl nf orce I (I N6 w i t h 2d ti uards AKI I I Y
Crom Sout:l~west: Feoi i t' s 2d riclielori. The 4dt.h L'anzer Corp't; s u c ws s es ni .ont : t l i c
Clitr again!;t: tl i tf 5th Tiink Arniy's attacks and rl i r dri ve of tlie 57t h Corps
t:ow.irds Si.:~iiiigr:iL l added I:o STAVKA's concerns s o t.hat. f i nal l y, over Vatutf.n' !j
strong objections, STAVKA on 14 December ordered 1il.m 1.0 (:o~uyly wl t l i t he
t;ui dmcc f or i i reduced scal e operat Lon terined LI'P'CI.I*: SA'I 'URN.
Soutliwcst: Front: was uow t:o dci i t ~oyLlie Lt:altan 8th AKIIIY .uld Army
lJ ~:t:,~.~li~~~(!nl ii Af t er tilie penet:rat Lon Hol i td~.wl t l i shal l ower cnvelogincnt.
phaws, inobi Lc tank i or ces woul d str i ke tn1.o the ericiiiy rear, but i.nst.w+il I I I
Ileadtng sout:I iwest, woul d tur n and run paratl el t.o the front.. LI: W~I H BOUI :I I CHS~:
envi si oned #:hat t:he ofEense would terlainat:c! wc t l short of t . 1 1 ~ <:riti,cilL I (ostov,
l eavtng t:1ii1t: obj ect.tvr l or f uture operac~ons.2U TI M operar.i.ori comiiiencc?cl on
16 Uecember and .icliievc?d stgntf tcanv success agi i I.nst : t:Ii(! l.t.;tl.l.aii U t h Ariuy i i nt l
I<uniemtan Eorces on E1ausl:et.n'~1 . d t f l ank . L n f our days the SovLet : t i hiid opciiwl
up a 1.00 mile gap i n t - 1 1 ~ German f ront and w(!rc? cxpLoLt t:ow;lrda id1Ll crovo
end I:lie IJ oiieI:~c r o s s i n g s . 'I'll ti; was wel l . t:o t he rl!ar 01 Arilly Group I J On, llow
st i l L Ci!;litlns on tl w Cl i i r wi t:l i t:lw 57t h Corps CVCI I I url.I ier to the i?iiliI :iiov~tng
I ow.~rdsSt .; i t tugrad. I ksptte t:lie reduced obj ecti vas 0 1 t: l i f op~!ri ~t.i i i n,i t
pr esc~i ~ <!,I!liinstc tn w i t h LI t.reiiiendous l : hr ~t . 'The cot Lapse 01: t:hc ;ilLI .es on
l ~i sLeCI. I l i mk ~~i ei i nl . ELank and rmir wen! exposed and t:Iiert! wen? I c w I I L S Gc!ri l I m
I i l
c i ) r c es berwceli the Sovtets and Kost~)v. Ftrst: prl ortty for Manstetn theref ore
I)i!g;in to sl i l l t froin I.hc rel.LeC o f 61.11 Army t o the more crl rtcal i ssue of
i:iaintatnLn1: 1'Iic en t tre southern wing of t he I:asI:ern Fr ont . 2"
OKH now est.iibLLfihed Army Uetachincnt Frecter-Pl co wi t h reiniiaiits of several .
dl vl sl ons and 1:;ive t t the inlsslon of protecti ng the bridgefi on the Donets near
Voroslii I .ovgrad mid t:ytng i n w i t h Army Group Don. Hut even so, Manstel n was
f orced to shtf t. the 11t h Utvl:<ton and HQs, 48th Panzer Corps west from the
Clitr 1.0 drat wtl : l i t:he threat towards the Donets crossi ngs and Tatsl nskaya, one
1 1 1 t ' he pri mary ai r f i el ds used Cor the 6th Army ai r l i f t . He was al so f orced to
slilI1: onc of the 57th Corp's three di vtsl ons west. Thi s occurred about 1:he
siiine t he that: t h e Sovl ct s shtl ted tlw 2nd Guards Army from the Stal l ngrad
I r ~ n tsiiuthward 1.0 retnf orce the effort. agatnst the 57th and al l b u t
Itlie dimin of 6t.h Arlny and the cnd of WLNTEKGEWI TTEK. I f B three di vi fi tor i
cfl:orl. coul dn't. cfl :ect a l i nkup wi th 6t:h Army, a two di vi si on ef f or t agai nst. ti
r et~~f or ced no support: from the 48th Corps certal nl y coul d enemy, wtth hope of
110t . Tlic! 57th Corps shtf ted to 1:lie def ense; l i ttl er ti i sl sted i t remai n I n ;1
rorw,ird posl tl on to actl l tat:e resumpttori of the advance at A l ater date, ti n
cvciit. wtiicti woutii never occur.30
'The l.os>; mid I <ccapture of Tat.slnskaya
The bnttl cfi for t:he i i trf l el d at 'ratutl i skaya are I nteresti ng to review
I X ' C ~~I I S ~I they provi de an excel l ent example 01 the state of Sovl et operat tonal
.irt: at t.lils tti oe. 'The 24t h Tank Corps co~nmaiided by Gencral Badanov, ;is part.
of 1st . (hard6 Army and duri ng thc expl ottatton phase of LI TTLE SATURN, had
coilduct:ed u deep attack iiit.0 the Gcrman rear. On 24 December i n a sur pr l ae
.i I.t .ack i t . captured the atrf tel d and suppl y center at Tatsi nskaya.
1J nfort.uiiat:ely f or Badanov, he was out of supportl ng di stance Erom the r est of
1st . Guards Army.
The Germans redctcd qui ckL y and ptaced an ad l i oc group Torued from SUiJpLy
tililts on tl adai i ov's rear, cut t i ng hi s LoC aiid bl ocki nd h t s w1t:hdrawal
nurt:hward. The l at er - i rrL vi ny 6 t h Penzer Dtvi si on from 57t h Corps rel nf urced
tliLs ef f ort and blocked I ladaiiov to t:hc west. Ual ck's 1lt:li Utvtston, j ust
ar r i ved troni 1:Iic Z1iI.r Kiver batl:les, attacked C K UI U t:lie eas t a~i d1iori.Iieast.. Au
Lnl:anLry di vi stoo bl ockad 1'he Sovi ets to the south. 'The 241:h corps he L d out .
against: Garlnan att:,i cks unti l . the 28t h ; f l nel l y rmiiimit;s or tlir shat : t er ed Co r p s
broke out: o i i t:Iiu 29th aiid inadc theL r way biiclc to Sovter ILnes.
The c!xmpl c and iaIsI::ikes of the 24th Tank Corps, renaint?d I lie 2d Guards
'Tiink Corps, 111 liorior 01 L ~ Hherotc acttuos, wo u L i 1 :it!cve t h e Sovi ets ti i the
dovel opl i i ci i t of i t s OFIC docI .r ti i e. 91 qutcl cl y c~i est LSWI t i i s l~cuiil.
commwder:; 1.0 push tiiltk corps O h l g (?xl:elldt!d cldV2lliCe:i i l l pai r s (JK l UOre L O
urtl er n o t to get. i sol ated a s di d I$aclanov.:12 ~url .l i ertnore, to ti nsure tl i ei r
.drliior opcratc!d i n strengI :h, STAVKA approved ii i i ew TOE f or ii I . i i d c 'iraiiy wl i l .cl i
woul d appe,ir t l i e fol l owi ng summer. Other Lessons Learned wer e that a tauk
curps hiid I:O be Eo Lloweci qutckl y by IuobLLe iiifaritry; 1oglst.tcaL s~i ]~port. liad 1.0
bc propsrty pl.dn1imt I I U C B U I ~~ i nobl l c f orces ran out: 0 1 fuel. ;i nd I iad inaiiil;enaiice
~irobleiiis;aod expecl:ed rates of advance of 40-8U kms/day were unrei i List Lc. iiml
sliould be revtsed down tu about: 25-35 Irins/day.33
A s Uacember 1942 drew 1.0 i i c Lose, tt was appar ent : t l i al W1.N' I: II: It C~~WL' ~~I: I(
coul d not: succeed. i.l;iristeLn si mpl y di d 1101: have thi? coinbiil. power l i cccssary I o
f or ce a 1.i.nkup W L t l l b t h Army. 0por;tl:Lorl I.I'I'TLE SATUKN, Wl i l L a? 1101: dbla? It,) ctll
thruugli to ilost:ov, hi i d driiwli t he 411th I'aiizer Corps away Crois ItIic: i nsl r i e l l or l .
1:owsrds Sl:.iL LngriiJ . Hiclcr would coiirlnuc 1.0 I iotd out: t:he I I O ~C 01. i i l i i )tl tcr
f utur e r e l t e l el,Cort., but 0 t h Army wouLd stowty wtt.her away. P ~i i l i i : i l i . Li ns i ! l l
surrai i rl c<l (xi '11 ~J ati uaryL943; tlii! Last reliiiiiiiit::i of I.i i e pi c k ol . l i e Ld 0111. ui l l I t
2 L.'rbruary. Tlic oi i l y posLr.Lvc thi ng the Gcrin,ius coul d Look a t ( L ! i.ii<livd,
onyrliLn; postr tve c o u l d be gleaned from t.hc IOSHof a 200,000 iiian A m y ) wti s
I Iial. t:hc Statl i i gr ad puckel . r t c d up stgiiiflcaiit: iiuinberu o t Sovtet: Corci?:; wlilch
or:hcrwi sc would liiivc bcen fr ee to ausl sf : 111 rtic over al l couatcr of f ensf ve.
Chapt er 4
Phase 2: l!rotecting t he Kear oE Army Group A
encLr c l c d 0 1 1 cti:lier TLiink. Man s t ei n expressed serl ous coricerns to Z ei t Ler on
b o t h 20 and 24 Ui!ceinber a b o u l tlie poasi btl i ty of l osi ng both Army Group Don
;ind A . I I I tlie 241:h' s conversati on he concl i i ded, "I ask that l t be constdered
liow tlie bat .rLc? woiii.d dovel op Lf we coininanded on the o t h er si de.'*36
Fi i i al .l y, l l l t:l .cr iiiiide ii sinall compromise on 29 December arid agreed to the
reductl ori ol: t.l i i ? Ciliic;isus He ordered the I .st Paneor Army to pul l
back so L t s front faced eas t , not s out h, and hence l t coul d cooperate wL1:li thi?
4th I' anzer Army 011 1r.s Left f tank. But sti l l Hi tl er refused to al l ow
.sLgni fLca~i tl.'orces Lo bc? pul l ed compl etel y back out of the Caucasus, as
:Linst.c!tn repeatedl y requested, to be used at t he deci si ve pol nt. Hence the
'bal cony' , as t4;iiisI :ein cal l ed i t , st i l l hung out tow.irds the east, ready to bc!
cut of f by the Sov1ol.s.
'Therefore, f or the 2ud pliase of the i:iiinpaign, Manstein saw his uni ts
havi ng the f ol l owi ng I :asks:DH
o I t at h er tliaii redepl oy t o the l ef t as he pref erred, hLs Army Group hod
I:,) fi.glif. f or tiiiie.
I) 4t h Palizer Army had to protect 111erear of Army Group A as L t pul l ed
back Croin t.he imountains LI I the Caucasus to a more manageable f r ont, and at s o
I iad I:o prevent Sovlel: forces from outf l anki ng i t on I t s Left and stri ki ng
1:owdrds Ib)sLov al ong t.lw southern barik of the Don.
o AD tl ol l tdt had to prevenl: an enctrcl ement of l t s ri ght which would
.i tl ow t.hc enemy to si -rl ke towards Kostov al ong the northern bank of the Do~i
I rod I:tii?c.i at; and al so prevent ~ J I enctrcl ement on i t s l ef t whlch would al l ow
1:Iio ci i ci i i y to str i ke Kos1:ov lrom the north. L f f easi bl e, AD Hol l i dt was to do
what i t coul d, I n coordi natton w i t h AD Fretter-Pi co, to prevent tl i rusts
towiirds the Dnepr .
The pri ort1.y L n tlits phase, however, was cl earl y to prevent the l oss of
l<ost:ov ;iiirl lience t he i sol ati on of al l tierinan Corces south of the Don. The
problesi was that. t h! f orces aval l abl e were not suf f i ctent: I:o inan a conti nuous
l i ne al ong t hc 1.reinelidous i rontages presented. Therefore, i%nsteln kept tiLs
:iriaurcd Corces l : og: ct l i er and executed a mobi l e def ense.
fit.11 hiimr Ari ny's MolrL Lt ! t)oI clise
4t.h l'anmr Ariay, consls1:liig prtnci pal l y of the 57th Panzer Corps w1r.h two
wc.ikciied dtvi sl ons ( 17 and 2'3 L'anzer), and soinc i nf untry, LuftwaEEe and
Seci i rl ty d l v t s l ~n s , ~~ be111g pressured by The !ioviett; was three Sovi et armtcs.
li;id r e o c j p i L z c d iind on I .Snnuary the St-al tngrad Frmt was renamed the South
Vront:. Mt : er t.urnLug L t s three iirmles over t:o Don Pronr t:o conti nue thu
rduct.L on of the 6th Army pocket, t.he South llront was gi ven the 5th Shock, 2d
Guards and 5Lst : Arinics wi th the mLnsLon of pushi ng towards Kostov on bo1:li
stiles of t:he l k ~i i . ~+~' The 1iI t:lxr t:wo ar i ui es, and l ater the 28t h Army froin the
(:ntrciisus rcyton, wou1.d at 1 combine to pressure the 4th Panzer Army on brrth
t Lnnks. MansteLn correc1:l.y assumed that these three armies meant t.o not onl y
l J r i >SSUr x ? tiic 4th eanzer Army but to encircle i t: compl etel y.41 tie coul d onl y
retntorce L t wl t t i the SS VL!cing Dl vi sl on which bad been r el eased by Army Group
A and h t er l n mld-.lmiuary, the 16th :4otorl zed Di vtston when i t was f i nal l y
re Leased .
'I 'hc! 4t h P;inzt?r Army concentrated i ts armor forces and executed a molrtle
dcl:ciiso, j ust : ;is l . 1 ~ 481:h Panzer Cor ps liad done on the C h l r RLver. I n
I h n s t e l n ' s words, "Pourt:h Panzer Ariny's obj ect was not t o of f er i nadequate
r c s t s t an c e alirn~:,.ill over-cxt-ended l i ne, but: to keep L t s Eor ces cl ose t o g et h er .
Only tliiis coul d L t o Ef c r sl : r ony opposi ti on at: vi t al spots or deal the enemy a
surpri se blow wlicnevcr an opportuni ty presented i t sel f By so doins, i t
ex wi i t ed counterstrokes LO the l ef t and r tgl i t, buying time for the 1s t Panzer
.\rluj . 111 Inld-.lanuary, ar t er repeat : ed requests by Manstei n (is act he of f er ed
1.0 resign out ol' f ruatratton on 5 J a n ~s r y ~~) authori zed 4th Panzer Amy l l l t l ur J
I:O pul t back t o u l l ne al ong t he i4;inich Canal , f acl ng north (see map). Thi s
iurl:ller c Loscd 1:hc gap between i t and 1st . Panzer Army. 44
Chapter j
Phase 3: Keepills the L OCs Open
! h v i r:k Operati onal OvervLcw
l t Ls usef ul now to review t he duvcl opmcnt oE Sovi et operati onal phns
,aLt:er 1 . 1 1 ~ compl eti oi i of ILLTTM SATUKN. The Sovi ets conti nued thel r overal l
(.oul i t.eroffei i stve at. t he l ~~~~i t i i i i . n ~ 1943 without: a real pause. They of
(: o.i t . Inued I:O pressure the enti re southern front: hopi ng to attri t German i or cex
imd col l apse !:he whole si)ut.licrn wLiig. A t the same tiuie the Sov1et.s were
rwl ucl ng the Stal i ograd pocket w1t.h Operati on K I NG, the Voronezh Front
a:ondur:tad Opera1:lon Ostrogoeh-Rossosti and qui ckl y tore open huge gaps i n Army
Group I$!; TronL. Between 13 and 27 J anuary, i t destroyed t he Hungarl an 2d
Army i i i i i l 1:lw I.talLan Corps, compl eti ng the destructi on oE the ALl.ted
arinii:s which hi i d once Eorlned the f l anks for tlic German bt h Army. Duri ng !:his
I: Lloe, the Southwest: Front was pushl ng towards the Donetz wtiLLe the South Tronl:
puslicd 41.11 laiizcr Army back towards Kostov. A second new operati on was
I..iunclied on 24 J anuary .i gaLnst the German 2d Arliiy on the L cft f l ank of AKI I I Y
tiroup U by 1:hree arinics of the Voronezh Front and t he 13t h Army of the Bryansk
Fr ont . This gai ned earl y SU C C ~SH and 2d Army began to wi tl ~draw.~
STAVKA now became very opt:i ~nl stL c. lt appeared as though the ent i r e
southern wing, Army Groups H, Don, mid A, were executi ng a strategi c
wtt.hdr;iwal . Theref ore, towards the end oE J anuary, STAVKA approved 1:wo ver y
;i~nbLti.oiis, l arge scal e operatl ons. l f successf ul , they would achi eve t he
oper:il:ional obj ecti ve of totaLl y destroyi ng the German southern wlng and l ead
1.0 the co LLapst? of the German eastern L ront, the exact scenari o Mansl i ei n had
worri cd about: si nce tie assu:oed coiomand of Army Group Don ti i November. These
o p er ~l . L o ~i s were caLl.t?d STAR and GALLOP.
w;.w counl.Lii?: on tlw arri val of the iiewtj, Corlned SS L'anzer Cor ps, expected I v ~
a . Lwsc 111 tl i c Kll.irkov ;i r e.&by i ni d Fa1)ru;iry. HLt.ler pL;iced gr c,i l . val ue 111 1.I l t~
(:orps i n I I i al i t woul d have tlic best: i i cw equl pi nent, tnctudi ng 'I'Lger tanks.
Ope r;i t i on GALLOI'
Opcratl on GALLOP woul d precede STAR by a day or two and w,i s ti i i ni l arty
ambi t Lous. W i t h Col.ikov protecti ng i ts northern f l ank, the Southwest Front
would conduct i i 1n;iI .n attack southwest towards Starnbe1r;lr and 1:lien swing south
1:owards Stal l no ari d Marl upol and the Sca of Azov, hence cuttl ng of f the
Ccriiians who wcrc cq)ectcd to bc wi thdrawi ng west, tryi ng to make I t back
iicross tl w Unepr. T I i k would al so recapture 1:he whole of 1:lie Donbas arrta wl t l i
Lt .s natural resources. I3ut the Southwest: Fr ont was al so to capture the Dnepr
crossi ngs zit: Uneprope1:riPItik and Zaporozhye. So, 11swl th the Voronezh Front,
i t s ef torl : would have 1.0 di verge, weakening tl i n main thrust. And l i ke STAR,
tliert! would bc no operati onal pause. 51 General Va1:uI: L n ' s Southwest Froot was
organi zed lnto f our ari nl es: Oth, 1st Cuards, 3d Guards mid 5th Tank; and one'
~i i obLLc ~r nupwhich 1:ook C l i c inarne of i ts columander, Mobi l e Group Popov. Total
i:o:abat strength was about 325, 000 .ii(:n and 500 tanks. 212 of these tdnks wer e
wnccntr,+l :ed I n Group Popov. The enti re Front would essenti al l y attack L n
sLrigLt! echel on. 'The f our 1:nnk cor ps of Group Popov were to attack through the
otl i Army and 1st Guards ArNy to secure obj ecttves up to 300 ki l ometerti deep,
1~1111s l i el pl ng to cut: thc expectcd Gerlndii re1:reat and a s s t s t i n the Front's
.irlvance. The Front onl y hel d two 1:ank corps and one caval ry corps i n reserve,
.uid i?vcii these l r corninLi-.tcd earl y I:o suppor t the advance. The l ack of
toper;il:ional reserves si gni f 1canl:ly restri cted the Sovi et abi l i ty to deal wl t l i
I lie (;et-miiii Counterstroke when I t came. Ci i i tl al l y, however, the Front had
.i I )our 2 : L superi ori ty i n uien ;ind <I 4 : 1 cdgc I n tanks, an advantage N;insteLn
wonld couli1:cr by Iliovliig torceti from hi s ri ght to l ef t . 52
011 21 .Iamr;iry >lansteLn warned OKH that he lied onty 4 or 5 days left. unt:Ll
lie wou1.d l i i i ve t o r i l i L I ~. up 1.0 I .WO ( I Lvi si ons Croin 4th l'dnzer hr~uy--stL11. sout.11
of t:Iic i)on--to vtcl i i tt- y of Voroshl l ovgrad 111order 1.0 protect: hi s f tank. 'Phi s
would iiiciiii 1101. Kost:ov open.!j 6 S t i l l Hitler procrasti nated. he C(JUM hold
Sout:li of the I)oii the l l usstans were f i ghtl ng across the Manich Canal and
C.l i rcat cned to ou1:flank t:lic 4th Panzer Army on Ll l s l ef t. Concentrati ng f our
corps on 4t h Panzer Army's left. f l ank, the Sovi ets punched across the Manich
towardti Kostov OII 2 0 .J anuary and reached the ci ty' s ai rf tel d. The 4 t h Panzer bec!ii usi ng rlie 1.htl i Panzer Di vi ston to del ay the Sovi et's progress
w1l .h t.I ~rust.slnto thei r f l ank, hut t hi s was not: suf f i ci ent t:o hal t thi s new
;it l ack. At. t:lie 6:iine time the Sovi ets attacked the 57th Corps' f ront as a
lioldtiig atti ack, t:hus hopi ng to get i nt o Lt:s rear.
Nanst et n needed to rel i eve t h i H pressure. lie had pl anned to use the 7t h
uwl l l .i : h P'anzer Ui vi sl ons, now w l t h Al) I i otl i dt, to shl f t to the cri sts du the
I .ett f l ank of t he Donetz. But now, faced w t t h the more immediate problem o f
kceptni: I lostov open, he used t:liein t:o stri ke across t h e I hn to the soutl i
xgallist 1:he enemy advanci ng around 41111 Panzer Army's l ef t f l ank towards
1k)r~t:ov. T hi s counterattack tei nporarl l y rel i eved the pressure on Roatov.57
Viiial. Ly, H i t Ler rel ented t:o Sov i et . and Manst ei n' s pressure to releatie t h e
l s l . Panzer Army froin the Caucasus mid wtthdraw I t through Kos t ov . He p!.aced
Lt ~r l i d ecManst.eLn's coininand on 27 J anuary. But even now it:s southern wing WRB
180 InLlcs from Kostov. Therefore, 4th t'auzer Army had st i l l to be ti ed down
s~i utl iof t h e i)on protecti ng i t s wi thdrawal . Hanst:eln was now conceriied
wIie1:Iiur 4t h l'anzer Army coul d be brought ov er I:O the deci si ve western f1.ank i l l
I: 5)'
hi d unf ortunatel y, from Manstetn's perspecttve, there now was n o t t he 1:n
b r i ~i sout ; I L L ol: the f orces from the Cauc;isus wtth the 1st - I'anzer Army as
would have been possi bl e earl i er.
50th Dtvi sl on and 13th Panzcr I )tvi si on were
- --
cliopped t:o Araiy Group A and woul d rri nat n I n t h e Cauc:i sus. Army Group A was I:o
wit:lidraw back I nto an encL;ive i n the Kuban peni nsuL a, wi t:i i it:s hack t o t:lic? 5%
oC Azov ~ n dt.he Kcrch Str ai t.. Hi tter rat:.l onal i .zed that t:lils would I:;icllI t:;ite
tul :ure Garmiin of l ensi ve o p er n t l o i i s I n the Cauc.i sus wlitm they coul d oiii:(%agni i i
resu:lic, Ibut ;Xaiist:elii coul d sec that i t mere Ly prevent:ed 400, 000 Ccrnians troop!;
Iroin pl a,rl ng a r ol e ~n t:iie d ec l l i tvr caiiipaign on t i l e sou1:1ie~iiironI .."g
L s t Conference w i t h Hit:ler
111 J anuary H l t : ler prol ul sed IManstein that tic was asac:iibl.i ng mi SS I'anzcr
Cor ps vit:Lnlt:y Kharlcov arid I t : woul d provi de the offensive c:oiinterst.roke
;i&iiiwt: the Sovi et: aI:t.ack whi ch :<aiisI :eln needed t:o pro1:cct liis L e f t : f h i k .
tiit:lcr wi ts pL..iclng swat : s t oc k i n t l i u new equi pment o f this cor ps Lo provi i l c
tl ~i !advani.:iLt! 1:I ic (;eriiiaii Arioy nei xl ed I:o regain 1:Iie h L I : Lii1:Lve. The! Gcrlnaris
11.1~1 1101. 1i;id .I t:,iok s u p er i o r t o t hos e 01: thc Russl mi s sL~ic:eI.Iic l etter
i nl .roduccd I:lie T34 111.J ul y, 1941, catchl ng the Cerniaus by t;urprlse. S1:ii.L I t -
wmn' I. unt i l 194% tliiil. Hl tl er approved t h e desi gn l o r t.I i c new I'ant:hcr txi i k r i i i i l
I iastelied tl i v pri ~duct:i on of ii I i eavl cr 'Tiger tank. The 1';i~it:Iierwas i i i red Luxi
I.ank of 45 I : OI I S w1.1:11 i i Long 7 h n gun. The I icavy ' Ti ger welglied 56 Loiis ;iii(l 1i;id
.i n U8am gun. Whoi i 1:licy were TlnaLLy tnr.roduced i n 1. Y43, tiii!y di d 1101: provi de
the deci si ve restiLt:s cxpacted by H1t:ler .611 T n any c xx, i 4; ~i i sI : ~~i n rcasoi i cd
t l i at t:lie SS Ui vl vi ons l)as Hcich and Adol f Hitler 01.. I:iie I WW cnrps woul d~i 't. 1)i:
prepared t o l aunch tlirtr a1:t;ir.k ui i ti l mi d-February aiid lie di dn' I. he1 tevr! t:Ii(!si:
two dl vtri oi i s, C. i c lrmi Ills Left: Fl ank, could ui Cectl vcl y accompLi sl i wl l i i t wi i s
ri t,ccsuary. 1.11 tlic inciint:lnie, t l i c r ef or c , lie kept: stretcti .Lny hi s f l ank l u r t I i i ! i ~
;ind 1urt:lier west:.
i n February lllic Soviet: 0per aI: l ons. GAl,l..l)t' ai i d STAR wcro L.iunclic!d ;ind
w,rtic!iicil t l i r ! cr L!; is. The 1st Pmmr Army wi i s wtl:lidrawing t.lirougii Kost:ov, but
!.;now i i nd i ku wcrc iniikliid 1)rogres:i :j Low. I l l t Ler on 3 Y ebru.i ry i s~uei l
I ) p!r. i tl ons Order 3 wl i i cl i plaiined or t h i s ricw SS Cor ps to st : r Lkct l.lit! Sovi et
I : hnk uridcr Fl ai i stetn's cont r ol . i 4anstetn di smi ssed the order wtth I\i:i ccpl y
I:O 0KH t l i et 1w coul d not take cont:rol whtl e they were so f ar away, that t l l c
I trrces were t oo meager I:o succeed, and that he had to have operat:lonai Frecdom
1.1) p u L L AI) HoLLLdt back over 45 inlles to the Mi u s ItLver and withdraw 4tl 1
I ' mmr Army from south of t he Don and Kostov t o act as an operatl onu1 r.+serve.
lhrr.licrinore, on 5 February, the Southwest Front's advance to wi t hi n 70 lniles
of the IDnepr crosstngs l ed :.lansteln to l i st several demands t o OKH:
( 1) Wii:lldrow AD HoiLldr. to the Mi us.
( 2) Linnied1at:e pr epor al : L on tor an ai r l i f t I n case the Unepr CrotisLiiip were
c u t .
(3) I tutl i l ess 1ncre;cee I n resuppl y by ral l , at the expensc! oE other Army
( 4 ) Transf er of 7t h Anti .al rcraf t l )i vi si on t o St al i no to protect the LOC.
( 5 ) SS I 'aneer Corps to counterattack south away from Kharkov.
'I'hese dciuands concerned 111 r l .er enough to Ely Manstei n to hi s headquarters for
,i per s onat i ntrrvi ew.61
Manst et n wanted to di scuss t wo i ssues. Fl r sl : was the subj ect of t he
ovi!ra L l unsati sf actory command and coot r ol of German operati one on the Nastarn
Front. Manstein envi si oned I l i tl er appoi ntl ng one Chief of St af f whoin 11,- coul d
I . cusl . 1:u tict i n hts nilme t o carry out oper.itlons i n a manner more sui ted to
1:lie Gcriuan Army, rattier than exfr c ttilng command hi msel f and getti ns l nvol ved
L n dal l y operattons, hampertng al l i ni tl attve a t I:hc Front. Hi tter evaded t he
Lssue and of course noth tng changed.
'he second topi c was the concept f or Llie def ense of the soui:Ilern secr,or.
M; i nsl .c?LIi i .rl ed tn expl ai n the decl stve nature of the threat tactng the
(;ccliiaiis. 'The Soviet: f o r c es cutti ng t h et r way through Army Group H' s ared
c0ul.d r:aslly 1:ut-(1 towards the lower Unellr crossi ngs or the Sea of Azov and cut.
oEt al l the southern Ger man f orces. The SS Panzer Corps asscinbling near
Kli,irkov coul d not st op thifi ti de by L tsel f . L n Hddtti on to the wi thdrawal of
1st Panzer ilrlny, 4t h P an~c cArmy shoul d be sl i l f ted back across t h e 1)011 I:o 1:hc
Left f l ht k t o iiet i n concert: wi1:h the Parizar Corps. Thl s requi red a rediictioii
of 1:Iie IUonetz saltenl: id a witlidmwal west of the Elius.
Any di scussl ol i oE vo L uutari l y g LvLng up ground was repugnant co l l l l : l +r.
tic i i r~ued1:Iial- clie wemy shoul d be f orwd I:O p y l or every f oot lie t- ecaptu~ed.
by so doi ng, t he Sovtew woul d be worn down ui i ttt thei r counI :croLl 'r~~si va
Zrduud t l ) a h d t . Reducing the l ength of 1:lie froiil: woii1.d al s o rel ease Soviet
forces wlilcli wer e now ti ed up. Tlir! 1)oliel.z basi n was al si i 1mporl:anI: I:o h h iis
~;iemis( i f denyi ng coat resources I:o I:iie enciii)'. And lroin a pol l ti cal
stiindpoint, Hl ti l cr f eared re~i ercuss.toi i s wi t h Turkey slioulil l i p execi i I: t ! .I l.sir};e
wi. f: lidrriw;i 1.
XansteLu countered tlial. i t was R :n:it:tt?r of Losing the Uonetz bi i s11i , i t oi i c ,
or the bas 111 and (kri ni i n Army Groups. The l orces av;i L Lable t o MarisI:eLri s LiupLy
wci'u not enough t o hold 011 I:o the rcgl on whtle attei nptl ng a r l ~ t ddcl-cnsi!, and
onl y by I octlnint: 011 I : ~ C Sovi et iirinlrs coul d !:lie (krmaiis ragiilii 1.he i ni tl ati vo.
sti l l Hit-ler I iest~::iI :ed, seciiiingly rel uctant t o accept postul.iil:es about what
tl i t! enemy inlglil: ;~cc:o~upLlsli on lrlic battl ef i el d b et o r e events cl ear Ly unfol ded.
nut Elansixto wi i s i nsi stent and would 1101: budge. [our I iours of
iiit.erisc di scuss Lon Hl tl er r c1el i l : cd and gave ,ipprovaL I:o Maiist.cin's Oper at i onaL
i.ntciitl.oiis, al though l i e di d ask lYaiis1:i:Lii : i s I I ~? was l eavtng t o Ii osl -poi x! his
wi tlidrciwal iis loug i i i i necc:csary, j u+t 1.n case nri earl y t l i i i w 1ic.Lped Eor-esI..iLI.
I.lle sovlet. ;ldvml~:l? !'>%
Al though an iiiiprI:iinl: vi ctory f or &iisI :eio, i t was !;I:111. unctt:nr i i i 11.1s
mind whether or 1101 L t wi i s now t o o l ate t o cxecutr hi s iumicuv(!r wl t l i t-lii! 41-11
I'iiiizer ,\ray or wliollwr AU I l ol L i d t coutd pi 11 L back wi .l :I i o~i l . bel ug oti1:I: I .arikcd I)),
I I I B Lurccs vicLnl.i:y V,,ir(ir;hLLovgr;id. hrri.vinl: Ixiclt at. OLI 7 111s l ~~! ~i ~l ~~~~~~r l : ~r ~j
February ,iiid Ctndi i i L tl i at: ii o f I <ostov had I',iL Len ;ig:iIn 10 S U ~ U K ~ 1.11~Sovi el s,
lie i ssued orders f or I.lie opcrdt tonal redepl oyment. I t t ook ui i l . t t Lil I rtiliru,iry
L o r I .iic 41:11Pa11zor Arlay and Al l tl ol l i dt to LLght. 1:heLr way back across tile M i u s
I o p s i ti ons r~cc.upLcdby Cerinaii forces the previ ous wl nter. The wit.lidr;iw.iL
wi ts acco~npani ed by hiuidreds of tl wumndu of reTugeen and ci vl l l ans mid ,iL :;o
cnt.,i L tml .I S much dcsl . r~ct Loo ti) Lacl:orLcs ,i n11 resources as thc Cerm;in couLd
~r l i n i n L ! ~t e r .Whether Lliey coul d Iiolil the Mius once they reached i t was i.n
qucst.L ~~n Tor several days. One SovLet ~:orpscr ossed tlic r i ver on t he I l l th iind
p s h u d 1.3 miles west: before t h e Germans coul d consol i date thei r Lines and
e~i i n i n at eI AW penecrati on.'J J
Vor onexh PIXJ llt: Takes Kharkov
I leZore t:hLngs g o t bei:t:er, tl i i ngs got worse. On Manstetn's l ef t A 0 I,anz
wi i s t.r yl ng 1.0 IioLd on 1.0 Khiirkov, the f oti rth l argest ci ty i n the Sovi et Unl on.
l ' l Lt l .er, ti cei nl ngl y CailLng to l earn I:iie l esson of Stal i ngrad, decl ared tlie ci t y
a foi-t.russ and gavc! Al) I.diii! the l ntssl on 1:o hoL d l t at al l costs. The probl em,
l i owcvcr, was that Hit:ler al so or der ed AU I mi z I:o use Lts lnain combat power,
I:hc I.wn divisions 0 1 tlic SS Parizcr Cor ps, I:o counterattack to the sout : hwest
towards Mai i s1: ei n' s i l ank. The count.eratl:ack began on 11 February l ~utWLLS
dri vol i I hck I:o Kharkov three days l ater. 1Iil:ler again ordered t he ci l :y hel d,
even L L had to be cal l ed of f .04 1.I1e~ ~ ~ ~ u I I I : ~ ~ ~ I I : I : ~ I ~ ~
On 1'3 l l ebruary AU I .anz snd other remnants oE Army Group 8, except t or 2d
Ariny WI I Lc!i reverl.c!d t o Arlny Group Cen t er , were p1;ii:ed under Manstei n's
command. Army Group Ii was removed f r om t.he Germmi order o f battl e and Ar:sy
Group 1k11rei i mocd Army Group Sout h. Manstein aoved I lls l i ei i dquarters wet;I: to
Z~i por ozl i yc011 kl i c! I hwpr i n order to better control t h e upcoming events wl l l cl l
110 a~itll:tp;itcdwoutd be deci si ve. The reinoval of Arlny Croup 11 at: a cri ti cal
I: Line dl d c ar r y some di sadvantages. I t caused s o ~n c conf uston whi l e Nanstel n
rccst;ibLLahed coi umunt cat Lon w i t h subordi natc uni ts. But wi t t i AD Lanz pl.aced
t i i i der I I L S ~:oio~oend, he now control l ed ul l r!ie resources necessary f or
syi \cl i roi i Lzi ng an eCft?c~:i vecounterst:rokc agatnsl: the Sovi ets . 65
3 6
Soutl i wcst Front Surges Forward
I t appeared I:liat: t he Southwesl: Front' s of l 'ensi ve would mal:ch tlie success
ol the Voroneeli Pronl : iil: Kharlrov. I.aunclied on 2Y J anuary, t he a1:t:aclc IIIIJI. w i t h
iinmetl1;ite success, dri vi ng tlie Germans hack to tilie Uonet a. Dy 5 February
I zyum on t t i c I)onrI:z had f al l en, wi th the German 320th ItiCanl.ry I )tvl sl on
f i ghtl ng ro kccp from bei ng enci rcl ed. Stubborn res1st:ance around the urban
centers did s l o w fi t11 Army's ari vancc.66
'The 1s t Guards Army was al so maki ng progress wi th e1cmcrit:s cr ossl ng thi!
I)one~: z and pushi ng t owar ds Sl avymi sk. The arri val of the German 7th and 3rd
i'nnzc?r i)Lvtsl.ons .in Sl ovyansl c as pirl: of the 1st l'anzer Army rcdepioymi?n1: w&s
j ust i n I ime to prevent a total col l epse i n thi s sector and t o beg111ii
H I : I I ~) ~~I ~I I t e s Lstaoce Ln the urban sprawl ar ound Sl avyari sk whtcli woul d I i e!l p wwir
t l w of crnsi ve down.67 T I I ~f i r s t days 01: Pcbruary s aw fLcrcc Lig1ii:ing iiroulicl
Sl avymsk. Norc ; i d more Sovl et forces wect! drawn i nto Fl i t! hHt I.1.e for t l l a ,
ci t y wlilch Iincl tiow become a major obs1:acl e For the 1st: Guards Army. 1.51:
l'anzcr ,\r.;iy ~ i a di;i;ide ttie ci t y i t s wcsti ern anclior . 6u
I 'opov's bl obtl e Group si l ppor tr d t:lie ;itt:ack across thc l)(mel:z I:owards
S1avy;i nsk. LI : bypassed the cl t y arid pushed on wut h, tal rl ng ILhr town (11'
I <rainat:orsk. But rei nf orc tng German unit:s lid put i t beliind sclioduli?, tlcd
down 11:sU ~ L I : ~ t owns l i ke Krauia1:orsk and prevented i t: lrola 1.11 f tgl i ti ng i n
expl ol ti i i g tlic peuet r at l on. German Eorces around SLavyansk wer e iiow orynni.;red
under 4 0 t h P'i.inzer Corps, 1st Pal l eer Army. OE C O U ~H C tliare sttl l exi sted i i
huge gap between I : I i ~s e forces and lilie ne;i rest other si1;iii.F Lcaiit German Lor(:(% ,
t he SS P'anzer Corps, i n and soiicli oE Klinrkov. 4 0 t h Corps' 1:Lrsf.
pr tor l ty was 1.0 I i ol d rlie ct r y iind then dr l vc Sovl et: f orces l ~ c k across t:Iie
i )o~~ei ; z.' TO do i .hLs 11. tr l ed tu pus11 tlir Sovi ets ouf . o l Kc mi at o r s k mid keep
co~~I : i i cI . wl t l i tlie 71:Ii I J Lvtsloti L n Sl i i vyausk. It: used t he 11.I.h l'anec:r I ) L v L H I o I I ,
wl11cl1 liiid 111ovec1lrolll r.lw Caucasus by t:riiin, to al:t.ack I : O W , I ~~I J I(raaiaI.ovsk.O1)
Th1.s I : Y I J ~ of urban ELglitLng slowed the Southwest Fr o n t ' s of f ensi ve; STAVKA
prcr;sured r:he Feonr. t o occupy Slavymisk and restore its momenl:um. Group I'opov
W.I S I:o assl st. 1st (:uards Army at Slavymisk ;and al so push south 011
Krasiio;irineyskoye aod Sti i l i no. In di recti ves on 10 and 11 February, STAVKA
r c1t er ; i l : ed I:lit! urgency of cutt: tiig the German wLtlidrawal to the Dnepr by
pressl nt: ou I:O t he Sea of Azov. 'To STAVKA, It: appeared tile Gerlnans wen? i n a
liccttc r eI: r eat and l t e r c r ftghti i i g at Slavyniivk was onl y a rear guard
i l ctt on.70
Group I'opuv aggrcssl vel y Eorcrd i t s way f urther south capturi ng Gri shi i i o
ci ~i t i I lieu Kr:isuoarmcyskoyc on 13 February. T hi s cut a critLcaL rai l way ti ne o f
Army Group Sout h r unni ng t o Dnc~i roprtrovsk. 1st Pauzer Army had to
count.cral:tack. It. had t he 71.11 und L1I :I i Panzer Di vi si ons counterattack aiist
f r m Sl avyausk and then turn soutl i Lntm Yopov's rear. SS "Vi ki ng" Ui vi s ton
wo u l d at t ac k west. Thi s conceii1.r Lc attack hopef ul l y would drl ve the Sovi ets
~)III:o f Kraslionrlueyskoye. 1st: Pawor Army refused to al l ow 40th Panzcr Corps
I:<)ib:ititloii Sl avyansk however; L t was provi ng I:o he t o o good an ' anc hor ' i n lilie
SovLcl. of f ensl ve.
, I
Lht!se atl :acks were iiot compl etel y successf ut; thls 1:Line t he Sovi ets made
use o f I:IWurban torratti they tiad captured. 1st Panzer cal l ed of f the ,ii:tacks
and LlisI .u;id di rected a L L urllts t o use u more Lndi rect approach and attack the
suppl y LLncs of I.licse ext ended f orces, postponi ng another countxrattack unri .1
L I coulil rei ntorcr ttie ef tort. 71
TIM! L el . Guards Army had much of i ts f i ght-l ng power tl ed up around
Sl avyansk, but. under pressure puslied o t h er f orces to i t s we ~tmid conti nued
t he dr Lve towards L'civlogrod and t hen Dnepropetrovsk, recetvi ng support from
1 . 1 1 ~ fi tl i Army on 11:s r.Lght. By 20 February Sovi et Forces were onl y 15 ini.1e.s
from 1:Iiat. ~r L tL ci i 1c r o s s i n g sttc und had cut: t he rai l l l nc l eadi ng from i t.72
6- r -6
Phase 4 : The (:ount:erstroke
The Sovl ct ;rdv;inct? up 1:o 18-20 February to w1t:l i i n 1.5 miles of
I )neproprtrr~vskand thei r f l ghti ng i n Krasnoareeyskoye iiiark l i mi t of thel r
of f ei i sl ve. SoutIiw~!!jl: Front had serl ousl y overextended Ltael F and the shi f ti ng
oi German f orces to the rl.gtit pl aces was to be j u s t Ln t he I:o make them pay
the prl ce.
i 4ai i st:5?Ln's 2d Conference wi t: h Hitler
The slt uat:LlJ n was st l l l Looking cri ti cal when fl i tter cleclded 1:o vl sl t
Manstc1.Ii ,i1. t-he front.. IIe arri ved at Army Group South Headquarters at:
%:i por(~~l i ye on 17 February. l n the back of hi s mind he inay have i ntended to
re L Levc !lanst.c!I.n, l 4 hi i t 1:he f i i tuatton appcared too desperat:e for that d r as t l c
'1 iiiuve. The iiicel'Lngr Croin 17-19 February were cr i t i c~lt o Manstein f o r
receLv Lng ;approv;ll of hL s (J perL3t:Lonal. concepts.
M;instein t:oLd HF tl ei - lie proposed 1:0 torget: ilboul. recapturi ng Kliarkov,
whlch hi i d jnsl. been lost:, ;and concentrate on e1.iininaI:lng the t hr eat t o che
Ihiepr c.r ossl .ngs. SS Panzcr Corps would dt:t:ack southeast towards Pavlo&:l';rd and
~ t hi colicerl: w i t h t.he 11th l'anzer Army. Once these concentri c attacks tiad :
dcsrroycd t.hc cntwny forces tl i rcatenl ng the Dnepr cr ossi ngs, then ii
coluii.ctr.iI:I:;ick would be l aunched to recapt:ura KharkoV. Hi tl er would not
ap[J roVe thLs Il e waut cd ii symbol i c vl ctory for pol Fr.l ca1 redsons iind
fearc!cl : h n s i . eL n ' s attacks would get bogged down i n the mud when the anow soon
thawed dnd l i cnce thc Gt!riniln!j wouldii' 1: g et back t o Kliarkov. Hi tl er Lns L:rI:ed
tlic ; i t .rdck be I:O recapture Kharkov. Manst:ctn Lns Lsted that the proper
s c q ~~~~n c cf i rst to str l ke t.hc erirlny f orces now near Dnepropetrovsk, but he was
c oi I . t dn' t co:ivLiice 11i rl cr.75
wl i I I ~.~I -;I W.I L. A s t:Iw : j l .i .uat Lon dc?l:ertordl.<.,l lor i.he Sou~.liwi!sl: Fronl -, Va t i i t L u
:;(?uI: ciill:; f or Vor onezh l?roiit assistance. But. i t w:isn't. unt L1. the Cormcr was
1.11 T t i L L coL1apse tl i i i t S'CAVKA ordered i:he Latter on 211 February to wheel '%I
'i'mik Army snut:li end clioppc!d i t 1.0 Vi i l : i i t - i n. But thls trnl y cauglil: 3d 'Panli Ariry
l ) el - wc ! m ,\I) Kcmpi , by now at : t acki ng f r ol o the west:, and 4th Panzer Army
dtti i ckti i g nor th, so I t 1:oo WAS chcwed up.80
Now Mai i st ei n coi~tI .~iucd the count.eroi Leiistve towardti Kharkov, decl dl og 1:o
st.ri kc west: of I:he ci ty wi t h 41:h Pal i zer Arlny 111nrder I:o i nal ntal n contact. wi th
AU Kc.npI: mid sti l l encl r cte t he ~ 1 . 1 : ~ and take L t: by a coup de mai n. a1 llut t h e
Lure 01. the pri w was t o o gr eat and t hc S:; Panzcr Carpi agai nst orders s en t
uni rs i nto t:he ci ty. A l t er tlirec days oE heavy 1i ght.i ng tlir cl t y f el l to t he
Gerioms on I/I M;irch. Keinoining Sovlct: resistiiiice west o i t he Uonet:~qui ckl y
col l apsed. The SS Pr i r i zer Cor ps enstl y pushed 1:o Bel gorod oi i 18 March aiid
r et ook t he ctty L n 1:our hours; wl th t hi s Man s t ei i i cal l ed t l i ~~ounteroi f ~!n: ~i v( ,
(i pcr; i l : Loi i coi npl .ete. Ile ti ai l pul l ed i t oEf j ufi t 111 t i i ne t:o I )i!;it t.he sprtki g
i l i i l ws and was iiow oi i i i l r oi i t si i ntl ar to OW wLI :l i wl i I .ch rhe Ger i nans had dtar tcd
LIIC 1942 surniner cmipaLgn.
b 5
' 1 0
(: onst~i ~i t Ly Lciirn!ng Iroiii thei r inLsl:iikes ;uid from the Germans, but thei r
in;it.uriLy ; i t : t:hr t . ac ~: I c al l evel wi i s 110t i i s consl stentty excel l ent :is tliclr
I ~ll~!llly' s .
" ' l ' i i cr Lcs iire t he ciil:tL ng edge of str.itegy"86 and HS such tacttcal nbi l l t y
iiiu81 iaari:li opcrat:lona.L mb i t tons. The Sovi et counteroffensi ve wht ch gr ew out
01 the Sl .nl tu~r;i deiir:LrcLemcnt, tndced, tlie enci rcl ement Lt sel f , was bold and
LinagLnatlvc 111s1:oyc. llad t h e eiicircleincnt of Ger man forces been si i cceusful
and thei r c u t , t he resul ts could have bcrn deci si ve. LLlies oC i~~~in~iiuiiii:;it.lons
lhir t.1ic L l nk; i ~ebcl:ween operatl onal art and t;rcI:Lcs had not: yet matured t o the
requtred degree. Ni al . were 1:he mLst.nlcctr a t t he tacti cal Lcvcl whlcli provented
I lit! Sov1el.s Eroln dchl evi og thei r opera1:imial obj ecti ves?
A n exampLe was tht? plrcemealing of thei r ioobtle st.rike forces. Launching
1lad;iiiov's Tank Ci i c p s on i t s 120 mile deep rai d to Tal:stnsk;cya enabled the
(krwi ns r.0 encLrc1.c and destroy i t. T hi s Led St al i n t o coach hl s Front
Coiuiiiander, Vatul:lii: "In general you uiust: bear i n mind that: it Le 1.0
~ S I I I - mk carpi .~l on(:ext:cndccl advances C o patr u, r at her than si ngl y, so a6
not . t o xi ?l . Ln1.o Il ; i danov' s po~l t l on. " ~' Ui i t casent:laLly I:hc same prohl ci n
occured L:it:er w l t l i I Iic 2'il.h Tank Corps. The Sout hwest Front: pushed i t f or war d
wlien t:lw Lruiit. wiis iilrcady overextended and i n f i erce f i ghti ng. The tank
c.orps was not cidcquntely silpported, encouncered fi erce opposi ti on, ran out . of
f u e l dnd was d ef eat ed . 011 r? sl l .ghtl y l arger scal e Group Popov exper Lcnced t he
same prolilc~n. Subjecl:c?d t:o concentri c attacks by t h r ee penxer dtvl sl ont;, i t
was i:hoppcd up rat:Iier ki rshl y ~il!~irRrasnoarineyskoye &id had to cry i c d I lght:
i ts m y wrt:li. The cs on t:he Chi r by I:hc F L f t h Shock Army agai nst tlie
48th I' ei i zcc Corps ol:fer ;inorlicr example. The 11t h Pniizer l l i vi sl on's mo:>ile
~ ~ ! I , ? I I s c w:is very successf ul because t:he Sovtet:~ gave i t the opportuni ty t o
'j 3
d ef o ~i rone penetrati on after anot her L n detai l . The 11t h was successful
t)ecaum! the Sovi ets picceinealed thei r offensi ve; for some reatloa t hey were m)1
i bLc ti ) synchroni ze thei r combnl: power agai nst the 48th.
T hts f al l ure t o synchrtmtze combat power at t he tactl cal Level ref Lect s i i
Lack of tact Lcal maturity the German's possesscd. A t the rl tvtsi on l evel , 11t h
l'anzcr Mvi si on's counterattacks on t he Chi r area of f er the perfecl : exampl e.
AS hick attacked one penetrati on af ter another, he managed t o synchroni ze ill!;
rc~l menl :sbcsut i f ul l y, uatng R Panzcr Grenadier Keghenl: t o block or ;is :I
ii:>I .diiig attack and swtngtng hi s Yanzec Regi ment i nto the fl ank and rear 131:
(!.I cI I Sovi et force. A t a hi gher Level, I lotli's synchroni zati on ol' fi vc! ixinzcc
di vtsi on!.; of the SS and 40th Panmr Corps i n Khr at k i c k north af ter
r ecapr ur l o; Favlograd 1s ariotlier exampl e of what t he Gcrmarifi i:ould do a1 thc
t ' i c t i cal Level.
baI:t:les OH t he Chi r of f er an example of t he agi l i ty of the Ct ?r ~nansat the
~:;l ctl c,i tl evel . l i i deed I t 1s amazing to follow t h t s one di vl sl on froin Lt:;
i:liir batt-les, to i ts moveinent: west to recapture Tatuinyaka, then I t s movo c m t
across tlie Ilon to support 4th Paneer Army arid Ei nsl l y LI:S drployinent wetil. 1.0
pl ay a par t I n t he colintcrofEens.ive. A t the operati omi l l evel , I t wi l y I:IW
sCi ni L ; i r i i gtl i ry 01: Geriliati ui i l ts arid lenders whtch .~l l owed !.2misteln t o sliL Tt
f i r st t:he 1st P;inzt?r ,: i d then the 4t h Yaiizcr Arluy to strpporl. his
:o1iI iI :eroLI eli:iive. L t was ngl l l ty which allowed t he SS Yarizer Corps t:o ; i ssum(?
ofi ensl vc acti on sout:li soon af ter bei.iig on the dcfensl ve and I)(?Liig li;isl:Lly
,?v;icuated from K1i.irkov.
3pt ! r:i I: L ol r a 1 1.111ti ati ve
Thi s <.,rwpitgn L H i i i i excelLent: exaiiipte oT how to make t he 1:rautiitioii From
1:hc operat Lonal dcfei i sl ve t:o tl w operati onal offensi ve. M; i i i ut I?Ln I iiiide t he
~rr.r~i sttL ou I nCti.ative away t h e eiiwiy. by ti cs!: wresti ng the operaI:Lonal CKWII
Ct. is importanl: to recogni ze 1:Iiat tlit! defender inay or may 1101: tirive f l i e
i ni t tat: Lvc; .i c depends on how he dccidcr; to execute I:lie d ef en s e. L et ufi ti rsl .
di scuss tlic meaning o f I i i i t:Lsl :i vtt and then appl y i t 1:o thts cn:npsigii.
1ii.I.ti:atlve i n FM 100-5 meniis setti ng or clianglnd the I:errus of the b;iCt:lc
by i i ctto1i . 9~Idhen appl i ed t o i ndi vi dual s, I t I mpl i es ii styl e vf I LglitLn);
wirlcli encourages a wi Ll i nZncss t o iict iiidependently wi l :I i L n 1:1ie ~r~inicwcrrk :if
tl i c! hi sher colninaiidcrs i ntent and wi t h audacLty, vi ol ent executton and L i i
ant l ci pat l on of .l i kel y enemy ~ O U K S ~ S of acti on. Oper ati onat LnttL.i tl vi .!, on
I : ~ C i ~thcrliand, connot es t:hc concept of one si de scttl ng Clic 1:erins of t l w
bdl:tle. llependiiig o1i 1:lie ti i tu,i ti un, eLt.her f l i e defender or dI.l:iicker inuy I N!
s(:tt.l nS 1:he 1:ertus vf t l ~ eb at t l e.
A t I I I . ? i h: ~; l nni n~o f this cainpiign tlic Sov1ct:s were on 1. 11~ oper~11:lon~il
O I I C ~ S L V C ; 1 . 1 ~ ~ 1:Iic op~~rat1oi i :i l They were s eI I l ng I l i e a h ) h.l d i ni t.l ati ve.
t.criiiri l or 1.11e ciiinpilgii. AI: the opera1:ional. I . I ? v o ~ t-hey wL:re forci ng t I w
(;crinaii:i 1 . c ) rwcl . I:O ILlieir Liiteiittons. MansI:eLii was on the opcrat tonal
del ens tve. A l r . hou~hthe (;,!rlnans f requent Ly used the L t a ~r ofI :c!nsive, a:;
w i t h t.lic!i r riolillt.L?riltl:acks i n the Chi r battl es, Manstein di d not have the ineans
HI the opsrnrl onnl l cvcl t o exerclse oper at i onal LnitLlit:Lvc..
I lurlng .lanunry ;ind Vebr uar y a transi ti on occured. I J hi l c sl:LLl on the
operat.toi i i i l dcl en:i tve, Manstei n began 1.0 setze the opcratl hnal l ni tl ati ve.
' Chi : ; was gained t hrough l.hc cumul ati ve ef f ect of German successes and Sovi et
errors at I : l i c tacti cxi t l evel , arid by Manstein's creatton n~i ddeployment of hi s
operaI:i.tinaI wscrves; tiis panzer f orces. A t soiiie time L n the campaign, whl l e
!;I i l l on t:lie overal.1 def ei wi ve, he began to set the t er ms of battl e. The
npcr.11 ionaL i n1tLati .ve was his; y e t he sCLL1 was on the overal l def enstve.
llis Lorces wero co~~~i l : er al : t ~ckt ~i ~ I:ha f l anks of the enemy and lieat Lnd t:lw memy
s o 1b:idl.y I:hat the "i n1l :tari ve" of the cmpal gn shi f ted to the Germans.
Manst.ein l wgm 1.0 s et I:Iw I srins 01 e. The Sovtets began 110 react I:O tits
f o r c es . For ex;unplc, 3rd Tank Army sli1fI:ed t i 1 Southwcut Front:. I ni ti ati ve (11:
1 . 1 1 ~ operat.ion:il l evel ~ d nbc thnugli of ,I S '*iiiorneul.uin" i n f ootbaL1; ei t h ei '
dr?l unsc! or ofEensc cia11gai n the 1nome!~t:w, hut he who hol ds i t sets tllc t e r w
0 1 l h C );mX?.
fM;instcLn n ex t expl oi ted the I nl ti ati ve by transl ti onl ng t r 1 the
o t Ici i : i tve. isl: uiid 4t h I'anzrr ArinLcs attacked towards the I)oi i et z and Kharkov.
T hi s 1s al so an c:r:ic?ntl.;iL potai t. J ust as ii def ender inlily or iiiay not Iiavi: the
I .ntri a~:i vr?,,I i:oinin.andr!r w1t.h t.he l ni ti atl vr may or iniiy not: exercise i t to go
on I.he offensI .ve. Mcade at. (:eft-ysburg and McCl el Lan at Ant:I .ei-mn had tht!
i n L I id1 i vc ,iCI xr I IIB h t I : l e s and di d not HI;BUIIX of f ci i si vc acti on, whereupon
1.11ey iiiiinedi,itely Los t L I : .
111 snainary, Mu i s t et n ' s g en er al s h L p demonstrates how to t ake the Lnl t:l ati ve
away Lrun.i t h! .arI .;lckcr, bear hi m up severel y wlille on the def ensi ve, tlim
cant-inuc t.0 expl o1.t thc L nitiatL ve by transi ttoni ng to I:he of f ensi ve.
L i i retrospect, t hi s ciimpaign coriflrlus two Linyortant poLiits i~i.rdeby
Cl.ausewit z . I?.Lrst, " (the defense i s) slmply the lniore effective Corm ol war:
9 iueiiiis 1.0 wl i i a vi ctory that ewi bl es one to t ake t he offensivr? : t f i : er
supari ori .ty has been gained . *' 91 Second, "A sudden powerful truiisl.t ion t o I:Iic
of f cnti i v~- t he fl ssl i i ng sword o l ve:iyenc.e--1s rhe greatest moment f or r.hc
F X 1OU-5 def Liic!s depth as !:lie extensi on of operii1:ioris L n space, time end
resources. Mausta L i i began w i t h no operati onal reserves, s o i ri l tl al l y he coiil.rl
MII: deploy his resources 111 depth. He was forced to sl i l ft 111s forces
Lacer;ilLy acr oss the operati onal bactleEi.eL d, iis lie cxpert:ly di d w i t h 1st ar i d
4th Pai i zer :ArillLes. He needed rime I:o acconiplish I I iLs :ind the space ;ivailabLe
i n the theater of operatl ous gave h i i n that time lie Inceded to indiieuver. Hut.
space wi i s iiot an Lioportant f actor merely becuuso there W~: J ii 101: O C l t for
:.l;+nstein; i t W ~I H onLy f.mportarit because Maust el i i made e w e L L c i i t- i i se ol i ,t.
T ~ P Wwore espc~ci.:~I . t wo Ly iinportaiic ways lie iii;ide use of space mil
hence c r w t e d deptl i to his bat t l ef i el d. The f i rst was by tenaci ousl y i i i i l i l i n~:
011 t n Ikcy terr,iLn whi ch would Forin t he shoul der s for lit.:; cour i t er at t : acks mid
provldc coherence f or I iLu deEeiise. TliLn campaign ofl:ers D goo11 i?xmipL+: <)I: I:lic
i mpor t ance l or i i detrndcr of hol di n; a shoul der when he hope:; t : ~ transi t 1011 I : o
I he offense 1al:er w1t:li couiiteratI:;tcks. I t of [era I:lie detcndcr soine
opportunl ry to sliape the battl ef i el d.
' h e STAK and CAL1,OP o p er at i o n s opeiicd tlie Gerinan f r ont i.n scvcral phct!!; .
'The front became very f 1.u.Ld wl t l i both Germmi ,.tiid Sovi et Lurce!; bcL111: t!ricirclcd
.it : I t . f Ler ent places i i t 1 . h s:wie I - L i n e. Although Nanst : al n would haw L l l wd Io
: ; l ~ap! I l w I L ~ I ~:l cf L el d,lie dl d not have s u i FL c L u ~i t . Lor(:c.s t o htock i i l L !;ovleI.
~rc~i err.i ~l onu; 'lxii;', wi t: h 111111 I i ol di ng t . 11~' l~ot:torn, so t o speak. 11. t o c r eal c ;I
h s bc,wi dl uc~i sscdhow lie argued wl t h Hitler I:() develop t:hc reserve forccs l i t !
iirsl:, 1dent:ifyin.g 1:hal: colnponent or part: oi the enemy, niore vit:al t h l i
ol:liers, (hl s cen1:er o f grovl ey), whi ch i f i1esI:royod can produce tlie most:
ri *!ci sl ve effect:. Sccond, detertiiining liow to g et at: 11I iti1: centt!r 01: gravi ty;
i . r . , de1:cr:niniIig tl i i ? sequence of U V ~I I I : ~ wiilch i C successf ul l y arranged wl tl
destroy t.tiat gr.i v tt:y what resuurco9 ,i re ~i ~?t?d(!i i ceriter 01.. atid ilccer~iiinin~ 1.0
producn ttliiit: sc?queiit:i: of events. Thi rd, det:ermining liow to prcvelit: tlic eiit!iiiy
IiroNn getti n?: 1:0 your cmiI:er of gravi ty wlii.le you #!I: ! : I ) his.
L E you oii.Ly f ocus OL I clie l a t t e r par t of ti l l s sequence, i .e., i f you unl y
trr:' co avoi d Losi ng, you are condeiniied I:o a dcfel i si ve st:cugl:ie vol d of 1 . 1 1 ~
ii011e (11: i l eci ai ve si i ccess. Hcre, t l i en, I s where we see Manntein' s geni us f or
I lic! opcr:il:i.o1ial art:. Although lie begati the c;inipaign on t i l e opcr;it:ioiiaJ .
d t ! i cnsi vt: ~t i dwt t l i out tl i i ? 1.nitLi ti tve RIIJ al tl i ough his iintncdl.,ite COI I CUPI I 1.11
ih?i:cviiher &i d .J anuary was the prevc?nl:loii UI ' 111s own ;iriiiy's destruct.loii,
i&inst.eiii sougli1: t:o produce tlie coti di ti ons fur a drctal .vr. vl ct.ory.
Wiiat: di d blaiist:eLn ~:onul dcr t:o be t:lie Sovi et center u C gr:ivLty L n t l i Ls
tIiciit:er 0 1 operati ons'! Unfortui i atcl y, Ln his iiiemoirs iie di d iiot. wri te 1r i
terms or :I cei i t : er 01: Xravi cy. But i t is cl ear that he V l i oi i ~l i t : ,-i l ong t:lic! wiiic
I.iws iis Napoleon, who once sai d:
I ., .
lhere are i n Ilurope many good genr r i i l s , but: t:liey sec 1:oo iouiiy t.liLng!; i i t
once. i !;ce onl y one thi ng, namely tl i r ? enemy's tnui n body. 1 t.ry 1.0 crush i t : ,
cmi r t . < ~ ! n t . tliiit: secoi i dary inat:ters wtl l tlieii settl e tiieniseivos .B~')()
&iist:ein's long range f ocus wi i s on tlie iiest:ruct:i.oii of tlie cneiny ~ o J ~ c ~ ! s ;
not i i i sl xad oii cl i e ret:enrtoii of t:errai n, or H ri ver litic, or Uliarkov or
St..i 1Lagrad. lii!j vi si on W:IS o r i en t ed on t:iie ciiciiiy army's destriict:ioii. Tlil!;
WJ S 1:lie onl y way towards R deci si vr! vic1:ocy.
I lk* ri i cagni zed t:li:it onl y by sl wrtenl ng htu fr ont and cconosii..l.~ig111ct!ri.iiLn
!;ec.I:or!; couLd l i e p r i ~d ~c e he conct ?nt .ratLon o arl uorcd coinbat power necess;+ry
lor deci sl ve rosu1t.s (;iod aLso produce ;I COhcrcnt def ense) . Ilc c o r r ec t Ly
w!q~ic!n~:edI ~V C I I ~Xby l eap- i roggtng Fi r st . and Vourth l'anzer ArtnLes to t l i e
dcctsi ve r egi on oT 1:lie c;iiiipalgn, estabLLsliing t he MLUH Ri ver def 'ensl ve L Lne,
mid t:iicn d1rcc:t i ns the countera ckx where t:licy were inost. decl si ve. I t is
r i i ~i i t f i c an t t o r ~ o t et hi t wi t:l i 111s sequenci ng of events HatisreL n wau successfu.L
i n .ichievLn,: t.wo 0 1 1: h: pcL nci pl es of war, Inass and surpri se. The pri ncl pl e
o C iiiilss " that: super i or combat power I U U S ~be coucentrated at the
dcc i :i i vi ? pL ;icc! and t.ime i n order I:O aciileve deci si ve resul ts The
prLiicLpLe of tiurpr Lsi! " r esuLt : s Ir oi n goi ng agai nst an enclny at: a t h e and/or
plhcc or 1 n ii i n i i n l wc [ or wliicli he i s unpr epar ed" ; i ~i t l w1t:li surpr.tse **success
out . oi pro1mrti on 1.0 ILIWel:fort: expended niay be obt:a Lned." y8 I t was
1)r L n c L p a L Ly bec aus ~!or n' s success i n achi evi ng x ~r p r LIE and superi or
(: cI: h.i I power <II I:IW deci si ve t line and pLm:e wl i tcl i cn.-ibl.ed I i i ~ot:o r eg al n I:he
i ni rL.~t.l vL?t ro: l i t : i i ' > Sovi ets.
YLnal.iy, he preveutwd 111:; own d el eat . whi tc str i vi ng l o r an oper,1t:iomikll.
vi ct:ory. i l i s I.OC!; were hi s points ~ l j vuL ri erabL ti ty arid presented the SovLet:!i
i i n opport.uni .ty L o r dec.1~ Lvt: YUCCBSS. Manut:ein anti ci pated t.liat ii successf ul
Sovi cl . 1.lirusl. c: i l . l i er to I:hc I hi epr crossi ngs or thorugli Kr;i snoarmeyskoye to t l i ~
Sea 01 Azov wouLd dc':i ni vcLy af f ect hl:i armored For~natl rcpresonted
his ccnI: er 0 1 i;ravLt.y. Ilt! t:liereorc ensured that: as l i t ? sougiit a decl si ve
vi ctory, lie prcv(!nt:cd the Sovi ets Lrom betng xuccessl j ut Ln tl i etr aillis.
I:COIII t:lw Sov Let perspecI ..Lvc, t.lic? cxptanatl oi i for t.hei r F a i Lure can ;ilso bc
<1'". ..,(.ri bed wi t. l l l n the context: o f the r etatl onshl p of the center of . gravi i y and
oper i t i o mi ar t. I i ocause the Sovl cts j udged the German Corces t o bc!
L n ' I NAtU conf LLct ilri: much 111oct! evenl y matched t n t:ernis of t:acttcaL and
opcr; i t , L oi i aL 1n;il:urity. I t has 1.0 remiitn 110 be proved whether ei ther si de C ~I I
pi t n an ml vant;i ge tn 1t.s i i ppl i cattoo of tacttcs o r oper atl nnat ar t .
A thi r d stgni ftcant. dtr f er ence Ls tn the composi ti on of forces. Both
Sovis?l. mid N;\'1'0 aciilcd Corces have evo Lvcd Lnt o total Ly mechani zed and combi ned
: I ~I I N I ormat.Lons. 'Tanks arc found supporti ng t he I nf antry as wel l as wt t l i
e x p t n t t : t ng iiriiiorcd he;ivy i orces. The dens t r y of tanks i n or gani zat i ons i s now
IiiucIi ,;ri!; si nc..u a U.S. dl vi stol i today may have up to 300 ti i nks compared t n
i mnc I 'anzor di vi si ons 1.11 tl i ts campatgn whi ch I iml been at t r Lt : ed down to 25 I:o
50 ti i i i l cs.
' T hc l 0Ur l .h si~:llI.FLca!lt-dt f f er el l c r . Ls t:I1at the SovLet:s WtLL 1101: be
.i I :I .xki ng NA T O L I I i i !iLnglc echet nn wi th(i ut. oper at i onal r es er v es .
CoiisL deri og t:ht?:;i! s t i ui Lnrit: Les ;ind di l tereoces, whi ch of the l essons
Lcar ned I r i m Manstetn's campai gn appl y on t h e NATO battl ef i ei dl It: may bc
i i s i ! t u l to put. t:hom L I I terms oC Liie tenct.s of AtrLartd llattle Uoctrtne as
appL l . c ~. d to a ~O S H .i t : t nck L hl u scenar i o agai nst NATO.
I nl t.i at.l vt! and As 1 l i t y
-- -_ --
A i r hi i d l h t . t : Le I)oc.t .rLne t ? l l l ~J h~l St ZeS!:he Lm~lortallceOf s eL Z l ng the tcolu tlic cl i csy. I t. al ready has been lnerittoned that NATO w i t L be5t11
wl.1.iiout. I.lie o p c r at t o n al Li i l ti .atLve. The ericmy w i l l choose the t:iinlng and
toi:,it.Lon o [ hLs mi l l at.t.nck. Ile not on.Ly outiiumbers NATO I:liroughout tlw
t l i e; i r i ! r , but lie cdn cxiicecl)dl:c I:he di l emna by econol ni ztng at l ocattons 11E 'ills
cl i ~~si , ~~; or der t o conceiit:r;it:e even more combat power at hi s poi nts o F L i i
i ~i ,i ~' ~tr ~i t: I .' )i i . t:o the Sovi et s I<eFLecl:irigback 1:he StaLLngrad enci r cl ement,
.ich Lcvud sup!r tor f or ce r ati ns on the wtiigs oI : thei r doubl e envel opment where
1.iicy e x p t o t t e d wc;rkcr , i l L Lcs even though t h y had l ess than mi overal l . rat:io
Oi l
I 1 1 t h l i . i t t Lrl L e l r l , I I #% (:;innot: ] t i st : IIIOVI: comhet Cormattons mid I .ict I.criL
I i i !.i d~i i i ,i rtcrsr.ip1.dLy . I io I I I I I SI imove l ar ger formattoris, compLet:e w i t h
t-lici r own 1o~:lstLcal.siip1iort.
The probl em L: i exacer bat ed becr use NATO' s enemy today tian much more
I mo t i l I.Lty tl i i i n di d Mansteiii's cncmy. Hence, Maristein had more time to react:
t liiiii NA't'k)'s operirr.Lona1. cosiiindndcrs w t l l liave.
4 F L M I . t ; i ct : or I i i i ndi cappl ng the agt l l t y of today's commanders 1s the
incrciise L n sl ze o c st:dll's duc to t:he prol i f ecatl on of 1nLorm;it-loo t-liey now
~t: I : ci ~i pt.1 . 0 m.i st .or . Co r p s ' st af f s In NATO have gr own t:o over 1000 personnel .
Coi nmi i nd iri r l i e corps ot Nan s t et n ' s ariuy was i l st r eam1 hied process betweco the
~:UIIIIII~~II~~I~ and cl i l el ( 11 sl :aff. A sel ect droup of ol f l cer s 1:ralned I n ti 112
Zcncral staf t syste.n l l l l ed out the compact German I ieatialuarrers and
cont.c 1bur:ed t:o this r ap i d deci sl on making. I hipL Lcating 1:hat rapi d dectsl on
making pcoccss wt c l i I.arger staf f s wi t 1 he a gr eat er cl l al l enge.
L n si l mwi ry, cveu t.tiouyli we have galnecl ngtttty i l l ' the tactl cal l evel wi t h
t : h ! dcvcl opmcnt nf t l i e 14-1 and El-2, that a): L L i ty doesn' t aut:omaticaLy
t.r:i nsl i i t.c t (i the operat Lona L LeveL . The prohlem I s n o t as severe w1I:Ii t:lw
i I I wker , who has the operat:LonaL Lnttiat:lve, aa wi t h the deEeridcr, who L n t l i c
I :ir Ly ?i I agc s o f the cmnpalgn w i L l be forced I:(> react. to the l ocati ons oi' tl w
cnei ny's maln attack. We haw developed 8 doctri ne of how to LLyht, hut we
liavi? 1nlier ired o r p n i z a t Lori s whose Eorce desi gu has evolved independent Ly oC
I: Ii dt . i l octrtne and i n fact may not: he Ldeal Ly sui ted to cxec~i tethat doci : rLue
i n NB't'O sccridrto. Organtzat Lonal f l aws ;ire Ltmlrlng our abl l i t y to take
advantage [if t l i t ! rrgtl tty that technology now of ers. Hecause we sel dom
lniinouver ;icrorJ s oper at i onal type di st ances w l t h l ar ge formations i n peacetime
tr.iLnlng exer ct ses we don' t recogni ze we are faci ng tlitl; problem.
7 2
Ilav tng a ~e p t e dt . hh phi Losophy, we cxin destgn our organizat tons and
L o!;L ?t.l i :.i ~i suppurl. 1 . 0 make LI. po!;stbLe. The qul ck ~I iL Ctliig0 1 CAl l s I rols oi l (!
Arliiy Group t~anotlier can represent: the c(i:;ence of operat .i ona1. agtl L ty on I:he
I uI ' ur~b; i l .tl .(?l l el d; LI : is t.hi s type 111 agLLtI:y tl i i i t 1s needed when t.he enemy
I iii!; t.he opcr al : i oni i L 1 n L t Let:Lve.
AiioI .hcr ti npi i cnt t o n of 1:hLs c;itnpaLgn study i s that Y yliChro1ii~.;it:tl,ntoday
w L L I . b~ wr e OF i i cliaLLenge f or NATO colnlnanders than f o r Manstein. FM 1.00-5
,.l f ?! j cribeti syncIIronLz:iI: Lon RS '*. . . t he ;irrangement of battl eFtel d acti vtti es
L I I t L I I I C , (ip;ii:c A I I ~ purpose 1.0 produce r el at i ve combat power at the deci si ve
poi nt.. " L o4 To today's problcia, compare the challenge Halck, A
di,vLsion coi ni ni ~ndcr , had I n syncl i rontzl ng IiLs co~bat:power wi t h today' s
couiiiidliders. I\ i on coininonder can have more tanks rhan's dl vtsi on
Iiad i n auy 0 1 bat .t : Lcs. I l attal l on, br i gade and di vi ston commanders
liiivc <it: t : l i eLr disposal sl gnL [i cantl y NOR system ;ind ;ict.Lvlt:les to
n y i i c l i r o n i ze t han r l i d I l i i l r k. W h i i t we have i s .? :signtELcant increase tn t:he
iiuiiilit!r 01 var L,rbLc!s cololiim1dcr.i ar c asked 110 Inaster.
T; coi nmonders h;ive I:o orcliestrate these var i abl es over l arger
cll.!;t.mices IIOW than over before. Consider that Napol ean' s dtvtsi one and corps
cn};:;i~;cd t h ei r enemy . i cr oss disttiiiclis of R Iki.lometer OK so. hl c k coul d be
I-hought o I as ;ndnLpuLiiI:ing h t s reg Llnanrs to engage his enclny wi t h i n a
IkI Loiiietcr. Now bi i l : tal Lo11 I:.isk Eorcc! conunanders wt l l begLn to engage tl1eLr
t?iit?iny w t t l i d l r e c t ELres out I:o thr ee ktl oi ncters. Wlrli today's niechanizwl
1orr:us the i?~ieinywl.11 close iniucl~qul cker t.liaii ever bef ore. And today's f r )r (: ~?s
liiive sti :nl Fi cai i t:Ly more f i repower at l ower l evel s than ever bef ore. In
:;umn:iry, coininaiidcrs j ui i l or to U; i l ck 1i;ive more V aK hbl eS to orchestratx, mor e
~i i i i l l ,i ,i i ci i t: ~i l , dtfter encas sti t t e x t s t regiirdtng J otnt: pl aontng l evel s, at r
,ipp.>ri.Itomnenf: and I l w ;i tr and ground component: st:ructure. These di f f er ences
tinpact. on t he operational. coai nai i dcr's abt l i t y to ef f ecti vel y syncl i ronl z,e a t r
.ind Lalid coinbat: powcr.LO'l For the scope of t hi s paper, i t is suf f i ci ent t.o
coiii:I tide 1:hiit yyI i cI i r~)I i l .%atl ouat hor h the tacti cal and operati onal l evel s w i l l
bo more dtff:L c.utt: than i t WRH L i i hi i st:eL n's Campatgn.
We l i avc seeii 1:lie Li nportancc of dcptl i on the bi i tt:l eCtel d, especi al l y to 1:lie
operat.Lana t coinmiiid(:i- who doesn' I . 1i;iva tlic t ni t tat tve. What: ar e the
i ml >I .Lcat: t ons coiisLdcrtiig that: NAL'IJ coiiunandcru do not have 1:he operat tonal
dc pt ti Marisrein di d? Atrl,;iiid I l attl e l )uct.ri ne postul ates the use of deep
'J 1M:ciit-IOlit;its way 1x1ex t en d t he hntkl cf i etd. Whi te 1:his i s tr ue, not enough &I
;it i:ention has been gtvcii t:n vul uer ahtl i ti es i n the rear areas. NA'CO
cmnmaiidcrs w t l l face more aertous i:hal. tengcs 111thetr rear areas than dl d
: .l ; i nst .ei n becausc r 1C t:hcir Lack o f operati onal depth. Wi thout ;is much dept:!i
h<!lituil 1:Iic 11rtl:ndr. rear boundari es our l ogtsttcs support: assets are inucli moru
vuLiicr.ii>Le I:han were Manstein's. Si nce i t . r equi r es more ammuni ti on and f uel
1.0 s u s h t n the force today, this p r es en t s t he urtacker wi th l arger, i nore
vul l i cri i hl e t ar get s cl oser 1:o lit:; poi nts of penet r at i on. Sovi et ai rburl i t? and
;I trlI lobtLc ilusc1:s whl ch dl d 1101: pl ay a rol e ag et n s t Mai l s t ei n but are avoi .l nbl c
tod;iy .I tso exi i cerbate t:lit? chal l enge. Ctearl y we shoul d be f ocusi ng mar(!
,ikterit:Lun on the sur vtvabl l tty of d s s et s i n our rear, but any anal ysts I > our
CSS i i i i l . ~. ~ i n l i t t l e t:lme wt t l show steady decr eases t hese uni t' s :irmaments,
dcvol:ed durtng tratni ng for t d ~t LcaL sur vtvabi l tty as compared to techi i Lca1
7 5
prol l ci ency, and evcii a rear area doctrine which places re!;~i~in~LblLi~:y f o r
i:ouiit:erL~i~:; Lgiilficanl: threats wi t h combat l or ces (inout of which wi l l be
t:oiuml.t.ted i n combat: ri1re;idy) .
I!rich von k t ans t el n, l ,osi : Vl ctorl es, edi ted and t.ransL:it:ed by A. G. Powel l
(NOV;II:O,Cs l LEor nl a: Presi dto Press, 1Y82), 11. 13. I n his forward of
I4,iiisi:ei~i'sinciootrs, Captatn I $. 11. I .l ~l del L tlari: wrl ten that, the generuL verdi cl
,iiiion); I : l i t~ Cerinan gc ner dt s he intt!rvlewi?d 111 1945 was 1:htit Mi i n s t el n WJ I H :I
I I I L gentus, proved l i t l ose LL: the :iblesI . commander ai d had ":I euperl ) ! xi i * : c%
o l oper~i 1:l onal posstbi l i t.Fes ;ind ,111 q i i a L innst:ery i n the conduct of
oI)cr ,i t toils ."
Cart v o n Cl aus ewl t . z, On War, edi ted and transl ated by M. Howard and P. Parer.
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