Military Review

Battle for Kharkov. To the 70 anniversary of the Second Battle of Kharkov (12-25 May 1942). 2 part

Battle for Kharkov. To the 70 anniversary of the Second Battle of Kharkov (12-25 May 1942). 2 part

Fights 15-16 May

According to the plans of the Soviet command on May 14, the 28th Army was to continue the offensive, introducing new units into the breakthrough. The troops had to advance around Kharkov from the north and north-west in order to connect with tank Corps of the 6th Army. The 38th army was supposed to hit the rear of the German group, which was located in the Chuguev area. This blow was to be supported by rifle units of the 6th Army.

But on May 15, the German command began to bring operational reserves into battle against the northern Soviet grouping. The Germans removed military units from unattached sections of the front and deployed them to restore the front and counterattacks. The strike capabilities of the northern group fell heavily; we had to throw troops on the left flank in order to fend off the strikes of the Wehrmacht’s 3 and 23 tank divisions, supported by three infantry regiments. In addition, in the 28 Army's band, the German garrison in the village of Ternovaya continued to put up fierce resistance, which was turned into a fortified point. The Germans supported the surrounding garrison. An “air bridge” was set up, foodstuffs and ammunition were dropped into containers in Ternova in parachute containers. It was Thorn that was the target of the attacking 3 and 23 of the German armored divisions. German tanks could not break through the front, but their strikes were held back with great effort. The Germans were stopped just a few kilometers from the village. In the battle had to throw those parts that were intended for the development of the offensive.

The German command began to transfer the 21 infantry division from the north to the site of the 168 army offensive, and then the 88 infantry division formations (the so-called Golwitzer group). The Soviet command did not lose hope of success. The 3 th Guards Corps was ordered to begin concentrating behind the adjacent flanks of the 21 and 28 armies.

16 May 1942, both sides continued offensive action. The Northern grouping continued the offensive, leading defensive actions with its left flank. The Germans continued to counterattack in the direction of Turn. 16 th all German attempts to unlock Thorn were repulsed. But these counterattacks significantly hindered the development of the offensive. By the evening of May 16, the command of the South-Western Front decides to crush the Wehrmacht rushing in the direction of the Thorn portion. German tank wedge planned to cut strikes in converging directions. For this, three rifle divisions of the 28 Army were attracted. At the same time, the efforts of the 38 Army were carried several kilometers further south to try to punish the Germans for removing reserves from the Chuguev direction.

During this period, German began to bring more troubles to the Soviet troops aviation, which was transferred from the Crimea and the west. So, throughout May 15, the German Air Force inflicted great damage on the advancing Soviet troops in the zone of the 6th Army. This reduced the rate of their onset. At the same time, reserves at the disposal of the command of the 8th Army Corps (AK) began to arrive. Echelons with units of the 305th Infantry Division began to be unloaded in the Krasnograd region. Already on the 15th, together with units of the 113th Infantry Division, they entered the battle. Bobkin’s group continued the successful offensive and cut the railway line connecting the 17th and 6th German armies in the Krasnograd region. On May 15, the command of the UGN decided to lead the 21st and 23rd tank corps into battle. They wanted to introduce them into the breakthrough on the morning of May 16, but because of the remoteness of their deployment from the front line, they did not manage to take their starting position for the offensive.

During May 16, the 6 Army of Gorodnyansky crossed the Berestovaya River and waited for the introduction of tank corps into battle. In spring, the river had a width of 10-20 meters, marshy understand. This required engineering training ferries. Therefore, the entry into battle of tank corps was postponed until May 17. The Bobkin group at this time, by the forces of the 6-th cavalcourse, half-circled Krasnograd.

Thus, on May 15-16, the Soviet command acted very carefully. The 1941 defeats of the year were still fresh in memory and shackled the initiative of the Soviet generals. There was no self-confidence to act proactively, decisively and quickly. Although it was precisely the time factor and the initiative in strikes that gave good chances for success.

Tank KV-1 6-th Guards Tank Brigade in battle on the Barvenkovsky bridgehead in May 1942.

The state of defense of the Barvenk projection and the completion of preparations for the German offensive

While the Soviet command was slow in putting into battle its main trump card - two tank corps, the German command decided to strike and completed the preparation of Operation Frederikus. Although the offensive operation had to be carried out in a truncated form, the main forces of Paulus 6's army were linked by battles and could not deliver a strong blow in the north.

The southern front barvenkovskogo ledge defended the troops of the Southern Front (LF), Colonel General Rodion Malinovsky - 9-I and 57-I army. The offensive tasks of the law firm did not receive and was de facto left to itself. This also became a mistake of the Soviet command, if the LF front organized an auxiliary operation, it could attract the attention and strength of the Germans in this direction, weaken the power of the German strike, or even disrupt the plan of Operation Friderikus.

The far corner of the Barvenkov springboard was covered by the 57-I army of Lieutenant General KP Podlas. Kuzma Petrovich Podlas would be an experienced commander who had a school of the First World War and the Civil War. In the Civil War, Podlas commanded a company, a battalion, a regiment, fought on the Southern, Eastern and Western fronts. He took part in the battle at Lake Hassan in the post of commander of the 1 (Maritime) Army. The 57 Army had four rifle divisions in the first echelon — the 150, the 317, the 99, and the 351 — and three artillery regiments of the main command reserve (RGK). The reserve was 14-I Guards Rifle Division. The 57 Army defended a sector of the front approximately 80 km, that is, on average, one division accounted for 20 km of the front. The most dangerous Barvenkovo ​​area was closed by the 9-I army of Major General Fedor Mikhailovich Kharitonov. It had six rifle divisions (341, 106, 349, 335, 51, and 333), one rifle division and two tank brigades, five artillery regiments. The army defended a sector of the front in 96 km. In the first echelon there were five rifle divisions, one rifle brigade, five artillery regiments. On average, each division had 19 km of front.

Thus, the divisions of the 57 and 9 armies were not built in dense orders. Each division had to 20 km of front, which was on the verge of permissible for a sustainable defense. German offensive on Barvankov ledge was not expected. The defense was built on the basis of a system of strong points and nodes of resistance; there were no second echelons. The depth of the tactical defense did not exceed 3-4 km. Despite the considerable time available before the start of the operation, the system of defensive structures and engineering barriers was in an unsatisfactory condition.

In addition, in the Kharitonov 9 Army Band there was a reserve of the Law Faculty: the 5 Cavalry Corps consisting of three cavalry divisions (60, 34 and 30) and a tank brigade. The corps was tested in battles fired by the compound.

On May 7-15, units of the LF conducted a private operation on the left flank of the 9 Army, trying to improve the situation by capturing the Mayakov region (northeast of Slavyansk). Two tank brigades of the 9 Army took part in the attacks (they had 42 tanks in their composition). Attacks on the Lighthouses were not successful, as previous attacks on Slavyansk. After the failure of this private operation, the command of the 9 Army was about to regroup, create tank reserves in the depths of the defense. But these events by May 17 were not completed.

At this time, the command of the German Army Group "South" concentrated forces in the south of the izyum bulge. They planned to strike a blow in converging directions: one of them went strictly to the north - to Barvenkovo, and the second from the Slavyansk region to the north-west - to the Dolgenkaya (20 km south of Izyum). Then, developing the offensive, they planned to force the Seversky Donets in the Izyum area. For an attack from the west, the reserves were redeployed — the 20 th Romanian division and the 384 th and 389 th infantry divisions. These units were supposed to reinforce the connections already standing here. The 57 of the Soviet army was opposed by von Mackensen's 3th motorized corps: 14-I tank, 1-I mountain-jaeger, 100-I light infantry division, Italian military group Barbo and the arrived 20-I Romanian division. The 44 th Army Corps, consisting of four infantry divisions (68, 97 and light infantry, two new arrivals - 384 and 389), 16-th tank division, was supposed to attack Dolgyenka from the Kramatorsk-Slavyansk region. The corps was subordinate to the headquarters of the 17 Army. The 16 Panzer Division, commanded by Hans-Valentin Hube, was not in the best condition. In the tank regiment there were only two battalions from the 71 tank. Of the regular 17 motorcycle infantry mouth was only seven. The artillery regiment had four divisions instead of nine full-time ones.

The 68 Infantry Division held the front between the 3 Motorized and 44 AK. The 16-I tank, the 384-I infantry, the 97-I light infantry and the regiment 389-y pd were shock grouping. Two regiments of the 389 Infantry Division were in reserve. The auxiliary strike was to be inflicted by the 52 army corps as part of the 101 radar and two regiments of the 257 radar. 3 th motorized, 44 th and 52 st AK were part of the Kleist army group. In reserve army group was 60-I motorized division. In total, the Kleist army group had 166 tanks and 17 assault guns.

As a result of the regrouping of forces and their concentration, the Kleist army group created a two-fold superiority in forces on the main lines of attack. Thus, five infantry and one tank divisions were to advance on the 20 km section of the 341 th and 106 th rifle divisions of the 9 th army of Kharitonov. On the 21 km front, at the junction of the 335 and 51 rifle divisions of the 9 army, twelve infantry regiments and a tank division struck.

Ewald von Kleist.

German offensive. The transition of the Soviet troops to the defense

On the night of May 17, the German assault force completed preparations for the offensive. Artillery training began in 4.00, which lasted an hour and a half. Already by 8.00, German troops had broken through the defenses of the 9 Army in both directions. The 3 th motorized hull advanced on 6-10 km, the 44 th and 52 th corps, advancing in the direction of the Long, - on 4-6 km. By noon, the Germans advanced on 20 km, fighting started on the outskirts of Barvenkov. Soon, most of the village was captured by the Germans. By 14.00 part of the 44-th AK went to the area of ​​the Dolgenkaya, as planned. The communications center of the 9 Army was destroyed in Dolgenka, as a result, the army lost contact with the LF headquarters to 24.00.

The headquarters of the Law Faculty of the Front learned about the German offensive only in the afternoon, and the headquarters of the South-Western direction only at the end of the day. By this time, the Germans had broken through the defense of the 9 Army to the full depth and were fighting with the operational reserves of the LF. Due to the lack of information about the German strike and the breakthrough, the reserve of the USS direction — the 2 th cavalcarpus and the reserve of the 57 Army — the 14-I Guards Rifle Division, who were stationed near the breakthrough, stood in place all day without knowing the German breakthrough and not having an order to counter the erupted forces of the enemy. At the end of the first day of the battle, commander Kharitonov was removed, replaced by Major General P. M. Kozlov.

It was only at the end of the day that Tymoshenko ordered the use of these reserves and instructed Malinovsky to restore the situation on the front using the connections of the 2 and 5 troops, the 14 guards rifle division. In addition, by order of Malinovsky, the 296 Rifle Division and the tank brigade began to be transferred by rail and road to the breakout site.

While in the south of the Barvenkovsky bridgehead a catastrophe was brewing, 21 and 23 tank corps were thrown into the battle zone of the southern group. The 21 Corps launched an offensive on 5.00, and the 23 Corps on 8.00. The advance of the tank corps proceeded at a fairly good pace - opposition from the German air force was insignificant. The planes of the Richthofen Air Corps were involved in the offensive zone of the Kleist army group. The tank corps advanced by 15 km, and the infantry units of the 6 Army by 6-10 km.

The onset of the northern shock group 17 in May was almost stopped. The commander of the 38 Army Dmitry Ryabyshev did not have time to complete the regrouping of forces and asked to postpone the offensive for a day. The strike of the 28 Army was pre-empted by the Germans, and instead of an offensive, Soviet troops fought hard defensive battles. German 3-I tank division was able to unlock the garrison of Thorn. At the same time, the German command organized an offensive against the 21 Army using the forces of the 168 Infantry Division. Towards the end of the 17, the 21 Army passed to defense. As a result, the command of the German 6 Army with the help of forces assigned to take part in Operation Fredericus and the reserves transferred from other sectors of the front, was able to stop the advance of the three Soviet armies.

By the end of 17, the headquarters of the South-West Front received information from captured German documents that had been captured by the intelligence of the 38 Army. The documents said that the German command 11 was going to go on the offensive - apparently, this was the initial version of the operation "Friderikus." Tymoshenko, comparing these data with the news of the German offensive on the army of the Southern Front, concluded that the German command wanted to destroy the Barvankov ledge. The Soviet command decides to stop the offensive and take measures to parry the German strike. 0.35 18 May, the commander of the 6 army, Gorodnyansky, on the radio, sent an order to withdraw the 23 tank corps from the battlefield and push it to the line of the Berek river. The river flowed from west to east to the north of Barvenkova already captured by the Germans and represented a convenient line for defense. The 343-Rifle Division, tank battalions and PTR units from the reserve of the South-Western Front were sent to the Izyum area. Tymoshenko understands that if you completely stop the offensive of the northern grouping, it will release the 3-th and 23-th tank divisions, and a number of enemy infantry units. Naturally, after this, the German command could organize an attack on Groceries, according to a previously prepared plan. 28-I and 38-I armies receive an order to attack in order to defeat the opposing enemy forces.

While Marshal Tymoshenko was building a new defense, the German command decided to deploy Kleist's strike force to the west. This made it possible to clear the Izum protrusion from the Soviet troops and stop the pressure of the Soviet troops on the 8 Army Corps. Soviet screen on the river. Berek became useless. The order for the withdrawal of the 23 tank corps was late, by the time it was received, the corps of Yefim Pushkin continued the offensive along with the formations of the 266 rifle division. Only 12.00 18 in May, the corps command began to withdraw its units from the battle. The 21 Tank Corps 18 May also continued the offensive. Order of his withdrawal to the line r. Berek was received only in the afternoon.

19 May, both sides made a regrouping of forces. By the end of the day, the 23 Corps reached the Berek River. At the same time, the remnants of the 9 of the Soviet army retreated to the left bank of the Seversky Donets. The 21 tank corps were withdrawn from the battle only by 10.00. In 17.20, the commander of the USP ordered the 6 Army to stop the offensive and go on the defensive on the achieved lines. The defense was assigned to the formed army group F. Ya. Kostenko (deputy commander of the South-West Front). It includes 253-I, 41-I, 266-I, 393-I and 270-I infantry divisions, two tank brigades. The headquarters of the commander Gorodnyansky was assigned to the 21, 23, tank corps, 337, 47, 103, 248 and 411 rifle divisions and ordered to crush Kleist's group.

The German command at this time was preparing forces to strike in the western direction. In the 3 th motorized corps, Mackensen collected all the mobile units of the army group, including the 14 th, 16 th tank and 60 th motorized divisions. Simultaneously to the turn of the river. Berek transferred the 68, 384 and 389 infantry divisions. The Soviet command expected the Germans to continue their advance to the north, on the Grocery. As a result, the events planned by Tymoshenko were devalued.

May 20 The 3 th motorized corps struck: The 16-I tank and 60-I motorized divisions attacked Lozovaya, going into the rear of the 57-th army. The 14 Panzer Division, which was advancing on the right flank of the Mackensen Corps, encountered Pushkin’s 23 Panzer Corps. A “tank battle at Protopopovka” took place. Dealing serious damage and disorganizing the left flank of the 57 Army, the Germans turned the attack units back to the north (the maneuvers of the German Kleist strike group during the second battle near Kharkov are considered to be one of the most intricate for this entire war) and 22 in May joined the 44 units infantry division. A "boiler" was formed. The front in the east was defended by the 14-I tank and 384-I infantry divisions, and the 16-I tank, 60-I motorized and 1-I divisions-mountain divisions stood up to the west.

Battle surrounded

The surroundings were: 5 infantry divisions 57-th army Podlas, 8 infantry divisions 6-th army Gorodnyansky, 2 Infantry Division Army Group Bobkin, 6 Cavalry Division 2-th and 6-th cavalry corps, 2 tank corps, 5 tank brigades and other artillery, engineering, auxiliary parts, rear services. These troops have already largely lost their strike power, were drained of blood, exhausted. Subject to constant air strikes.

To release the Soviet units, the Southern Front creates a consolidated tank corps under the command of the deputy commander for the Armored Forces Armies. Two tank brigades (3 and 15) were included in the corps. By the evening of the 23-th brigade were at the place of concentration (although they could not transfer heavy KV). On-site corps convert: exclude weak 3-th brigade (15 tanks), leaving 15-th (24 tank), injected into the corps remaining 64-th tank brigade (32 tank) remaining outside the environmental ring (20 tank) and a separate tank battalion (XNUMX tank ). It is clear that such a unit cannot be considered a full-fledged shock division - it had no artillery, motorized infantry, anti-tank, engineering units, etc.

In addition to attacking the Kleist army group, the command of the USSD direction had an idea to organize a blow to the weakened German front of Chuguev by the forces of the 38 Army. But because of the impossibility to concentrate the strike group on time, this plan was abandoned. 25 May consolidated tank corps began attempts to break through the outer ring of the environment. The Soviet troops inside the encirclement ring prepared two strike groups to break through the inner ring. The first group was led by the commander of the 21 tank corps, Grigory Ivanovich Kuzmin, all remaining tanks of the 6 army entered it. The edge of the group was the 5-I Guards Tank Brigade under the command of Major-General Nikolai Filippovich Mikhailov - there were 14 tanks left in it. A group from the area of ​​Lozovenka was advancing towards the consolidated tank corps of the LF at Chepel. Of the 22, thousands of soldiers and commanders who went on the breakthrough were able to break through 5 thousand people and 5 tanks of the 5 Guards Brigade (May 27). The commander of the Guards Tank Brigade Mikhailov was wounded and captured (he will survive in German captivity, will be released at the end of the war, reinstated in the army). The commander of the 21 tank corps, Grigory Kuzmin, was killed. The second group consisted of fighters of the 6 and 57 armies led by the commander of the 23 tank corps Yefim Pushkin, and they were also partly able to break through the encirclement. In all, by May 30, about 38 thousand people were able to reach the position of the 27 Army and the consolidated tank corps. Few were able to get out. The Germans have created a dense ring environment. Timely responded to breakthrough attempts. Widely used aircraft.


- The losses of the Soviet troops amounted to 270 thousand people, of which 171 thousand - irretrievable. Almost all of the command of the southern shock group was lost in the environment: Lieutenant-General Fedor Yakovlevich Kostenko, deputy commander, and Lieutenant-General Kuzma Petrovich Gorodnyansky, commander of the 6 Army, Lieutenant-General Kuzma Petrovichsky, commander of the 57 Army, Lieutenant General Kuzma Petrovich Podlas, and Commander of the 1941 Army, Lieutenant General Kuzma Petrovich Podlas, and Commander of the XNUMX Army, Lieutenant General Kuzma Petrovich Podlas, and Commander of the XNUMX Army, Lieutenant General Kuzma Petrovich Podlas, and Commander of the XNUMX Army, Lieutenant General Kuzma Petrovich Podlas, Lieutenant General Kuzma Petrovich, and Commander of the XNUMX Army, Lt. Major-General Leonid Vasilyevich Bobkin, member of the Military Council, Brigadier Commissioner I. A. Vlasov, Brigadier Commissioner A. I. Popenko, and others. It was a big blow - many commanders had a great combat experience, saved in vivo Recording terrible Kiev "boiler" on September XNUMX years. A significant amount of heavy weapons and various ammunition were lost.

“The Second Battle of Kharkov is a good example of a battle, in which a more decisive, quick and experienced side achieves success. The command of the Soviet UZN was two steps away from victory and significant success, but the German command was able to reverse the situation, and the Red Army troops suffered a crushing disaster. The timely introduction of 21 and 23 tank corps into battle could have forced the former command of Army Group South in doubt to abandon all forces to defend Kharkov and rescue the troops of the 6 Army who could be surrounded. Apparently, the fact that the Southern Front was left to itself was probably a mistake - the organization of an auxiliary strike in this direction could divert some of the forces of the Kleist army group. A strike by tank corps could also have helped the northern grouping of Soviet troops — the German command would have to withdraw one or two tank divisions from this direction.

The main reason for the failure of the operation, the Military Council of the UZN, pointed out in a report to Stalin 30 of May 1942 of the year: “A well-conceived and organized attack on Kharkov turned out to be not completely secured from enemy attacks in the Barvenkovo ​​direction.” The command miscalculation was the assignment of the defense task of this direction to the unused in this operation LF.

- The defeat of the UZN troops, the destruction of the Barvenkovsky bridgehead allowed the German command to develop success and move on to the implementation of the Fall Blau plan (“blue version”). The Germans were able to go on to a strategic offensive in two directions: on the Caucasus and on the Volga, to Stalingrad.

The T-34-76 130 tank tank brigade, captured by the Germans at the end of May 1942, during the encirclement of the Soviet troops near Kharkov. The tank was produced at the STZ (Stalingrad Tractor Plant).

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  1. Tirpitz
    Tirpitz 14 May 2012 10: 53
    Really overestimated their strength and underestimated the Germans.
  2. Dust
    Dust 14 May 2012 11: 30
    They could have won, but as a result they lost - it doesn’t count!
    A huge tragedy, which served as a prologue to even more serious upheavals in the near future ...
  3. AK-74-1
    AK-74-1 14 May 2012 11: 43
    An interesting historical article. It is unfortunate that history has no subjunctive mood.
  4. Rodver
    Rodver 14 May 2012 12: 05
    Victory went to a more determined and determined opponent. War is war.
  5. Petrol
    Petrol 14 May 2012 12: 17
    good without a cloud does not happen .....
  6. borisst64
    borisst64 14 May 2012 13: 39
    Thanks to the author, very detailed and informative.
    The defeat is very serious, until recently it was silent. In my opinion, inadequate planning affected, very often "did not concentrate on time", "did not have time", "were postponed", "did not receive instructions". not ready.
    As a result, before Stalingrad, activity was overwhelming among the fascists.
    You can argue, we have no right to judge, we fought against the strongest army in the world, if there was no lesson, it is possible that later we would have gotten completely disastrous.
    Eternal memory to heroes!
    1. Yoshkin Kot
      Yoshkin Kot 16 May 2012 14: 24
      still learned to fight (tactically and strategically) unfortunately, the lack of continuity with the army of the Republic of Ingushetia played a cruel joke, and neither Brusilov nor Slashchev could fix it, because their students of the academy simply did not see for political reasons
  7. Svetoyar
    Svetoyar 14 May 2012 15: 15
    The Kharkov battles of 1941-1943, an example of military stubbornness, courage and courage of both warring parties.
  8. patrianostra
    patrianostra 14 May 2012 15: 53
    after this attack, the Germans drove the captured Red Army men through Kharkov for a week. ours scared the Germans a little by the appearance of advanced intelligence in the KhTZ area.
  9. Ross
    Ross 14 May 2012 16: 13
    Thanks to the author, the article is very informative. Detailed analysis.
    Indeed, we rarely think about that factor, as the author writes, that the commanders (and indeed the soldiers) remembered the strength of the Germans, their tactical skills and coherence in the 1941 year. It bound up the initiative for sure.
    But such defeats taught the commanders, forged a future victory.
  10. Civil
    Civil 15 May 2012 08: 04
    Grandfather was seriously wounded (2 cavalry corps, 1 year in the hospital), but he was taken out of his entourage ...
    1. Yoshkin Kot
      Yoshkin Kot 16 May 2012 14: 25
      if the grandfather is alive, then health!
    2. aksai61
      aksai61 25 August 2015 23: 23
      Oh! Your grandfather was lucky ...
      Grandmother’s brother was captured ... In 1944 he was shot ... they were afraid of an uprising ...
      In general ... that hell on earth ...