The Korsun Pocket

Discussions on WW2 in Eastern Europe.
VJ
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The Korsun Pocket

Post by VJ » 01 Mar 2004 23:50

Just finished reading Glantz's translation and analysis of Soviet archives regarding the Korsun operation of 1944. The Soviets, in my opinion, for the first time really highlighted what would become their post-war military doctrine (encirclement, envelopment by heavily armoured forces) in that operation. The result? Nine divisions (much closer to ten in total strength though) of German troops annihilated, including some 60,000+ killed outright, for just over 20,000 Soviet dead. 1:3 -> 3:1 :)

Furthermore, at the same time as the encirclement was busy cutting apart the pocket, the Soviets were beating back furious assaults from outside the pocket by would-be relief forces.

An interesting operation, to be sure.

Anyway, sorry I've been absent. My computer had a heart attack :(. It's almost entirely functional again, now.

Regards,
VJ

Michate
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a bit of caution advised

Post by Michate » 02 Mar 2004 10:26

Hi VJ,

It would be wise to take any information on German troops strength and casualties given in this study with a large grain of salt. They all stem from Soviet estimates at best (and are deliberately inflated at worst) and clearly contradict the information given in German primary documents of the battle such as strength and casualty reports.

A criticism on the study by Niklas Zetterling can be found can be at http://www.militaryhistory.nu/critiques/critiques.html .

It is also discussed at the Dupuy Institute forum: http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/ubb/Forum ... 00018.html and http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/ubb/Forum ... 00022.html and also on this forum some time ago:

viewtopic.php?t=32118&highlight=zetterling+korsun

Best regards,
Michael

VJ
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Post by VJ » 04 Mar 2004 08:07

Hi Michate,

German sources agree with KIA estimates. The numbers fit. And we're talking about *classified* Soviet documents - which have most of the time proven to be truthful to an extreme. While the Soviets had a great propaganda machine, they didn't gloss over their own failures in "private", so to speak.

Regards,
VJ

Michate
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are you sure?

Post by Michate » 04 Mar 2004 10:50

Hi VJ,

German sources agree with KIA estimates. The numbers fit.


Which German sources agree with the KIA estimates?

The number of people e.g within the pocket was reported as some 56,000 and over 30,000 have been reported to reach the German lines and 4,000 evacuated by air transport. So only around 20,000 can have become KIA or MIA and not 60,000+.

As for losses of the German troops outside the pocket, the numbers given in German reports are also much lower then the numbers given in the Soviet study, as Zetterling demonstrates.

So IMHO it cannot be stated that these sources agree with the estimates study and that the numbers fit, rather the opposite.

Also, on what basis do you state, that *classified* Soviet documents
have most of the time proven to be truthful to an extreme
?

The fact that a document is classified does not make it automatically more reliable.
Here we also have to consider that there are several types of classified documents. The staff study is not a primary source like e.g. combat strength and casualty reports given by the reporting channels, but was written after the events and thus there is always the possibility (not to say the temptation) to make oneself look somewhat better.

And concerning this very study or the general staff study on Kursk I have read a lot of comments from people like e.g. Zetterling or Chris Lawrence that indicate rather the opposite than your claim of extreme truthfulness, at least concerning information on German/axis forces given in them.

Of course, information about their own strength and casualties can be considered to be much more reliable, but should anyway be compared to real primary sources (which e.g. Chris Lawrence seems to be doing for the Kursk battle).

IMHO giving strength and loss figures for an army in combat based on estimates by the opponent forces is a fundamentally flawed methodology, regardless whether German or Soviet. Even more so if information by that army's own reporting channels exists and contradicts these estimates.

And this holds true certainly for both sides. German estimates on Soviet casualties (based on German *classified* documents) have to be considered equally unreliable and often inflated, as can be seen when comparing them to the numbers given e.g. by Krivosheev.

Best regards,
Michael

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alpinejager
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casualties

Post by alpinejager » 30 Sep 2004 20:33

German ration strength for units in the pocket was given as 56,000+ men. This comes from a variety of verifiable sources on the Wehrmacht side. So how could the Soviets have killed more than were there?
Unfortunately most Soviet era histories suffer from 'socialist-realism' filtering especially prevalent during the postwar years.

You might try 'Hell's Gate' by retired US Army Col Nash for objectivity, ie neither pro german or russian

http://thecheapestbook.com/isbn/0965758 ... state=&n=1

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Henry Jones
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Post by Henry Jones » 03 Oct 2004 17:27

My grandfather were wounded at the 1.1.1944 befor the Tscherkassy-Pocket get closed. He was Maschine-Gunner in the Grenadier-regiment 308.

A friend of my grandfather fought in the Pocket, many of the comrads fallen there :( he was in the Kampfgruppe Keiser, G.R. 326 :cry:

Abramis
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KOrshun pocket

Post by Abramis » 26 Nov 2005 20:51

An estonian, named Gustav Nõmm, who struggled out the encirclement, is still alive and (b. 1924) lives near me. A couple of years ago I put down his memoirs from that time. He said the breakthrough was at nighttime and the waves of soldiers were sent out after every hour. He was appointed to the last breakthrough wave that started at 5 am. Their duty was to shoot at the wounded soldiers not to be imprisoned by the Reds alive. Russian guns and tanks were shooting all the time.
On the way there was a narrow but fast water river named Gniloi Tikitch. The air temperature was -14. This was the last barrier on the way. Many perished there. The opposite bank was so slippery that some of his fingernails came off, but he could cross it. Then he could enter a building that was full of people trying to warm up. Some germans had gone crazy and were chewing the table legs as he put it.
For the breakthrough he was awarded the EK II and got 3 week leave.

Igorn
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Post by Igorn » 27 Nov 2005 19:21

Some interesting info (if we ignore some anti-Russian rhetoric) from: http://members.iinet.net.au/~gduncan/ma ... .html#USSR:

THE KORSUN SLAUGHTER (February 16-17, 1944)

During the freezing cold night of February 16, five divisions of General Hube's 1st SS Panzer Army, (54,000 men) including the 5th SS Division Viking and the Belgian Volunteer Brigade Wallonie, made a last desperate bid to break out of the Russian encirclement around the towns of Korsun and Shandrerovka in the lower Dnieper south-west of Kiev. At 4am, elements of the 8th Army formed up into two marching columns of around 14,000 men each and flocked into two parallel ravines in the surrounding countryside, and where the two ravines met, the troops, now in complete disorder, then emerged into open country and headed out towards the town of Lysyanka. There, disaster struck as troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, under General Konev, were waiting. Soon after 6am, the slaughter began. Soviet tanks drove into the two German columns crushing hundreds under their tracks. Fleeing in panic, the troops were then bombed and shelled before being confronted by units of Cossack cavalry who started hacking them to pieces with their sabres, There was no time to take prisoners and in the short space of three hours around 20,000 German soldiers lay dead, their bodies later dumped in holes dug in the ground. The hundreds of wounded and medical personnel left behind were butchered by the Cossacks. Only a few officers survived, most had fled the scene by plane some days before. (Russian sources put the number of dead during the two weeks of fighting at over 70,000) To reach Lysyanka the troops had first to cross the raging Gniloy-Tikich river. Reaching the opposite side many were transformed into blocks of ice their uniforms frozen to their bodies. About eight thousand others, who had fled the scene and were hiding in the woods, were rounded up during the next few days and taken prisoner. For this great victory, General Konev was awarded the title 'Marshal of the Soviet Union'.


Best Regards from Russia,

Jan-Hendrik
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Post by Jan-Hendrik » 27 Nov 2005 19:28

What info ? This is full of mistakes ! Its even worse than the Schrott Jean Mabire wrote in his book about the "Wiking" :roll:

Hubes 1SS-Army , damn , thats one of the best :wink:

Jan-Hendrik
Last edited by Jan-Hendrik on 27 Nov 2005 19:38, edited 1 time in total.

Igorn
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Post by Igorn » 27 Nov 2005 19:33

Michate,

The significance of the Russian win at Korsun-Shevchenkovsky (Cherkassy pocket) was in destruction of the combat strength of six and a half Wehrmacht divisions including 5.SS Wiking Panzer Division. Six and a half German divisions lost all their weapon and machines (artillery, panzers, SPW etc.). This meant that six and a half German divisions were lost for the consequent operations in Ukraine.

Best Regards from Russia,

Igorn
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Post by Igorn » 27 Nov 2005 19:49

Jan-Hendrik wrote:What info ? This is full of mistakes ! Its even worse than the Schrott Jean Mabire wrote in his book about the "iking" :roll:

Hubes 1SS-Army , damn , thats one of the best :wink:

Jan-Hendrik


If you ignore some typo errors like Hubes 1SS-Panzer Army as well as some anti-Russian accusations this passage gives quite a truthful picture of what happened with the rear columns of the German Korsun grouping at the early morning of February 17th 1944. Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev, Generalls Vorontsov and others were giving very similar description of these events.

Best Regards from Russia,

Jan-Hendrik
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Post by Jan-Hendrik » 27 Nov 2005 20:02

Not really ...

Try the book from Nikoslaus von Vormann :wink:
Stoves original "1.Panzerdivision" contains a large part about the relief operation , it is good ,too .

Jan-Hendrik

Igorn
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Post by Igorn » 27 Nov 2005 20:10

Jan-Hendrik wrote:Not really ...

Try the book from Nikoslaus von Vormann :wink:
Stoves original "1.Panzerdivision" contains a large part about the relief operation , it is good ,too .

Jan-Hendrik


I can advise you to read the book of the modern Russian WW2 historian Vladimir Beshanov, the Ten Stalin's Blows or books of German historian Earl Ziemke, or American historian David Glantz on the subject. If you want to see first hand accounts you can check the books of the Marshal Konev or General Manstein.

Best Regards from Russia,

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 27 Nov 2005 20:15

Jan-Hendrik wrote:Not really ...

Try the book from Nikoslaus von Vormann :wink:
Stoves original "1.Panzerdivision" contains a large part about the relief operation , it is good ,too .

Jan-Hendrik


I was not very impressed with von Vormann's book. Too long on the anti-Soviet rants. IMO one of the weaker efforts in the Wehrmacht im Kampf series.

I also do not think he would have been in a good position to report on what happened inside the encirclement, seeing that he was not there.

All the best

Andreas

Jan-Hendrik
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Post by Jan-Hendrik » 27 Nov 2005 20:15

If I need first hand accounts I can visit some of the involved people :wink:

I do not trust those post war autobiographies too much , they were all written with a political intention .

Jan-Hendrik

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