Operation Schildkröten-Stellung

tortoise position

The 'Schildkröten-Stellung' was a German defence line of Generaloberst Karl-Adolf Hollidt’s 6th Army in the southern USSR between the Donets and Mius rivers to the west of Voroshilovgrad and Taganrog (September 1943).

This new 6th Army, replacing that lost at Stalingrad in January/February 1943, was formed from the previous Armeeabteilung 'Hollidt' in February 1943, and held the line of the Mius river against General Leytenant Rodion Ya. Malinovsky’s South Front as part of the defence found by Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein’s Heeresgruppe 'Süd' (later Generalfeldmarschall Ewald von Kleist’s Heeresgruppe 'A'). Extending along the western bank of the river between Mariupol on the northern coast of the Black Sea as far to the north as Stalino, this defensive line suffered from exactly the same problems as other German defences on the Eastern Front, namely the overall lack of construction time, manpower, equipment, materials and weapons, and was thus punctured with little difficulty by the South Front, now commanded by General Fyedor I. Tolbukhin, during the opening stages of the Soviet 'Donbas Strategic Offensive Operation' from August 1943.