Operation Büffel-Bewegung

buffalo movement

This was a German series of local withdrawals in the Rzhev salient to shorten and thereby make more defensible the front in the sector of the ‘Büffel-Stellung’ from Dukhovshchina to Spas Demensk via Dorogobuzh (28 February/25 March 1943).

Here Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model’s 9th Army of Generalfeldmarschall Günther von Kluge’s Heeresgruppe ‘Mitte’ was nearly encircled by elements of General Vasili D. Sokolovsky’s West Front and General Polkovnik Maksim A. Purkayev’s Kalinin Front, which had attacked to the west at the end of July 1942. Adolf Hitler’s acquiescence in this retreat to the line of the Mius river was strategically sound, but the concept was forced on the German leader very against his will by von Kluge and Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein, the commander of Heeresgruppe ‘Süd’, further exacerbating the relations between Hitler and his senior commanders on the Eastern Front.

The German evacuation of the Rzhev salient shortened the front by 230 miles (370 km), and freed 21 divisions for use elsewhere.