Battle of Kiev
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseIn the morning of 3 Nov 1943, German 4th Panzer Army stationed in Kiev, Ukraine was surprised by a massive artillery and aerial bombardment, followed by advancing Soviet troops. After two days of action, Soviet troops entered a city not yet recovered from the battle in the previous year, and now further damaged by both the intense Soviet invasion and the scorched-earth German retreat. Kiev suffered 7,000 buildings, which included about 1,000 factories, plundered or destroyed at the hands of the Germans. 200,000 civilians were killed during the course of the war. 100,000 civilians were sent to concentration camps during the occupation. What resulted was a city with only 80,000 survivors, a mere 20% of its prewar size.
ww2dbaseErich von Manstein of German 4th Panzer Army was able to convince Adolf Hitler to release German 48th Panzer Corps to conduct a counterattack, though his request for the inclusion of German 40th Panzer Corps was rejected. German troops drove forward, but they were halted by Soviet 7th Guards Tank Corps near Fastov. Similar scenarios played out all around Kiev with German troops fighting fiercely but unable to halt the Soviet juggernaut. The Germans caught their break with the arrival of German 48th Panzer Corps containing the elite 1st SS Panzer Division, retaking Brusilov and Zhitomir, two towns that the Soviets had recently captured. Large scale tank engagements ensued with heavy casualties on both sides over the course of the following month.
ww2dbaseOn 5 Dec 1943, German 48th Panzer Corps launched a surprise attack northward from Zhitomir while German 13th Corps, reinforced with German 2nd Fallschirmjäger Division, attacked eastward. This maneuver threatened to surround Soviet 60th Army. To relieve the situation, the Soviet leadership dispatched Soviet 1st Tank Army and Soviet 18th Army as reinforcements. With fresh troops, the Soviets were able to halt the German offensive and capture Brusilov.
ww2dbaseThough the Soviets emerged victorious, they failed to achieve the important objective of enveloping German Army Group South. Nevertheless, they were able to deal heavy damage to German 4th Panzer Army, and the morale boost for gaining Ukraine was substantial.
Anthony Read and David Fisher, The Fall of Berlin
Battle of Kiev Timeline
|3 Nov 1943||Soviet troops launched a massive breakout attack from their bridgehead north of Kiev, Ukraine.|
|5 Nov 1943||Soviet troops began entering Kiev, Ukraine.|
|6 Nov 1943||German 4.Panzerarmee was split into smaller groups near Kiev, Ukraine, but it prevented Soviet troops from breaking the rail link with Army Group Center.|
|7 Nov 1943||Soviet troops recaptured Kiev, Ukraine.|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939