The 2nd Battle of Kharkiv

I don’t think not too many people would have expected at the start o 2022, that Kharkiv would be daily on the news in relation to battles happening in the area.

It is the second-largest city and municipality in Ukraine.Kharkiv was founded in 1654 as Kharkiv fortress, and after these humble beginnings, it grew to be a major centre of industry, trade and Ukrainian culture.

The 2n battle I am referring to is not in relation to the current war between Ukraine and Russia , but a battle which started on May 12,1942 during WW2.

The Second Battle of Kharkov, so named by Wilhelm Keitel, was an Axis counteroffensive against the Red Army Izium bridgehead offensive conducted from May 12 to May 28, 1942, on the Eastern Front during World War II. Its objective was to eliminate the Izium bridgehead.

On May 12, 1942, Soviet forces under the command of Marshal Semyon Timoshenko launched an offensive against the German 6th Army from a salient established during the winter counteroffensive. After initial promising signs, the offensive was stopped by German counterattacks. Critical errors by several staff officers and by Joseph Stalin himself, who failed to accurately estimate the 6th Army’s potential and overestimated their own newly-trained forces, led to a successful German pincer attack

The Soviets struck first. At 0630 hours, on May 12 an hour of artillery bombardment began, with the final 20 minutes joined by aircraft. At 0730 hours, the ground offensive began, meeting tough German defense from the start. By the end of the first day, the deepest penetration achieved by Soviet troops was merely 10 kilometers. Soviet generals realized that poor intelligence prior to operation led them to misjudge German strength in the region, which was twice as strong as they originally expected; part of that German advantage was possibly due to the Germans detected a possible Soviet attack, thus had bolstered strength at strategic locations. By the end of 14 May, both sides had suffered serious casualties. On the German side, the German 6th Army saw 16 of its battalions nearly wiped out.

By the end of May 24, Soviet forces opposite Kharkiv had been surrounded by German formations. Hemmed into a narrow area, the 250,000-strong Soviet force inside the pocket was exterminated from all sides by German armored, artillery and machine gun firepower as well as 7,700 tonnes of air-dropped bombs. After six days of encirclement, organized Soviet resistance came to an end as the Soviet formations were either killed or taken prisoner. The battle was an overwhelming German victory, with 280,000 Soviet casualties compared to just 20,000 for the Germans and their allies. The Second Battle of Kharkiv is know as a major Soviet setback that put an end to the successes of the Red Army during the winter counteroffensive.

The failure is often attributed to the Soviet inability to account for the military strength of the Wehrmacht as well as the reorganize their troops. The initial purpose of the attack on Kharkiv was for the Soviets to retake the previously captured strategic city of Kharkov assuming that they were now better prepared to deal with the German troops that had caught them off guard the previous year.

sources

https://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=50

https://worldhistoryproject.org/1942/5/12/the-second-battle-of-kharkov

https://ukrainetour.com/activity/kharkiv-battle-history-tour/

Leave a Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.