Uman Defensive Operation

The 'Uman Defensive Operation' was a Soviet defeat within the 'Kiev Strategic Defensive Operation' after the encirclement of General Leytenant Ivan N. Muzychenko’s 6th Army and General Major Pavel G. Ponedelin’s 12th Army in the area to the south of Uman during the initial offensive operations of Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt’s Heeresgruppe 'Süd' as part of the 'Barbarossa' invasion of the USSR (15 July/8 August 1941).

Among the major Axis encirclements executed against the Soviet forces in the first period of the 'Great Patriotic War', the battle was the third stage of the six-stage 'Kiev Strategic Defensive Operation', of which the other five were the 'Korosten Defensive Operation' (11 July/20 August), the 'Novohrad-Volynskyi Defensive Operation' (10 July/20 August), the 'Tiraspol-Melitopol Defensive Operation' (27 July/28 September), the 'Kiev-Priluki Defensive Operation' (20 August/26 September) and the 'Malyn Offensive Operation' (5/8 August).

The 'Uman Defensive Operation' pitted major formations of General Polkovnik Mikhail P. Kirponos’s South-West Front, defending the bridges over the Yuzhny Bug river and the strategic railway linking Odessa and Smolensk, against the offensive operations General Ewald von Kleist’s 1st Panzergruppe, which comprised three 'motorised' (Panzer) corps in the form of General Eberhard von Mackensen’s III Corps, General Gustav von Wietersheim’s XIV Corps and General Werner Kempf’s XLVIII Corps in western Ukraine during its drive from southern Poland to Crimea.

The Soviet forces in this theatre were under the overall command of Marshal Sovetskogo Soyuza Semyon M. Budyonny’s South-Western Direction. The headquarters and many formations of Ponedelin’s 12th Army (the VIII and XIII Corps and the XXIV Mechanised Corps) were able to evade the encirclement after the German infantry formations were unable to complete the closure of the 'cauldron' containing the Soviet forces, but both the 6th Army (the XXXVIII and XLIX Corps and the XVI Mechanised Corps) and the 12th Army were later disbanded, and escaping troops were incorporated into other formations and units. Other Soviet forces involved in the 'Uman Defensive Operation' were the remnants of the IV and XV Mechanised Corps, the V Cavalry Corps, and the 4th and 6th Fortified Regions with the 6th Army, the reduced XVII Corps and the 10th, 11th and 12th Fortified Regions, and elements of General Leytenant Andrei K. Smirnov’s 18th Army.

In the first weeks of 'Barbarossa', Heeresgruppe 'Süd' had advanced to the east and south-east with great speed, in the process capturing Lwów, Tarnopol and Vinnitsa, and destroying the four mechanised corps which Kirponos had used in the Battle of Brody counterattack within the context of the Soviet 'Ukrainian Border Defensive Battles Operation' (22/27 June). By 29 June the German advance had come to a halt, albeit only temporary, but the Soviet forces were exhausted and started to retreat. With the failure of the Soviet armoured counter-offensive against the 1st Panzergruppe, Heeresgruppe 'Süd' continued to advance to the east and reached a point only a small distance from Kiev by a time in the middle of July.

An attempt was then made by Budyonny to deliver a counterattack from the area to the north of Uman in the direction of Berdichev with the object of preventing the 1st Panzergruppe from cutting his lines of communication. This counterstroke failed to make contact with significant German armoured forces, which passed only some 30 miles (50 km) to the east of the Soviet concentration, in its continued offensive, but the counterstroke nonetheless exhausted the ability of Soviet formations to effect their withdrawal at a speed greater than that of the German advance, and in mid-July the German forces cut the railway line at Talnoye and other bridges over the Gorny Tikich river, and soon after this the bridges over the Sinyucha river.

By this time most of the Soviet forces had been drastically degraded in numbers and capabilities after withdrawing from the Polish/Soviet border region under heavy German air attack, and their mechanised units had been reduced to what was in effect a single corps after the Brody counter-offensive, with its mechanised infantry now fighting as ordinary infantry. The Soviet forces trapped in the Uman pocket had a strength in the order of 300,000 men with 317 tanks and at least 858 pieces of artillery.

Totalling some 400,000 men and 600 tanks, the Axis forces were divided into those of the 1st Panzergruppe, which had suffered significant losses in matériel but retained combat effectiveness, and the largely infantry formations of three German armies (Generalfeldmarschall Walter von Reichenau’s 6th Army with the XVII Corps, XXIX Corps and LV Corps later supplemented by the LI Corps from the Oberkommando des Heeres’s reserve; General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel’s 17th Army with the XLIV Corps, XLVIII Corps and LII Corps; and Generaloberst Eugen Ritter von Schobert’s 11th Army. Also in the theatre were two Romanian armies (General de corp de armatâ Petre Dumitrescu’s 3rd Army and General de corp de armatâ Nicolae Ciupercă's 4th Army) trying to advance from the west to meet the 1st Panzergruppe at point to the north of the Crimean peninsula, the initial strategic objective of Heeresgruppe 'Süd'.

On 10 July Budyonny was given overall command of all the Soviet troops operating in the South-Western Direction, which had been created to co-ordinate the operations of the South-West Front and General Ivan V. Tyulenev’s new South Front. Budyonny had 1.5 million troops under his command in two strategic sectors of the front he was tasked to defend: the Kiev sector (General Leytenant Anton I. Lopatin’s 37th Army and General Leytenant Fyedor Ya. Kostenko’s 26th Army) and the Vinnitsa-Uman sector. No sooner had he taken up his command than Budyonny was advised of the continued triple-axis offensives of Heeresgruppe 'Süd' deep into the breach created between the Kiev sector’s 26th Army and the 6th Army to its south as the 1st Panzergruppe drove a wedge between the two Soviet sectors to the south of Kiev and to the north of Vinnitsa, capturing Berdichev on 15 July and Kazatin on the following day. von Stülpnagel’s 17th Army advanced to the south of Uman and von Schobert’s 11th Army advanced to the north from the Romanian border.

The Stavka and the South Front’s command staff erred in coming to the assumption that the Germans were attempting to reach the crossing of the Dniepr river between Kiev and Cherkassy for further offensive action in the direction of the industrial Donbass, and therefore underestimated the danger of an encirclement of the 6th Army and 12th Army. On 28 July the South-West Front and South Front were ordered to prevent the Germans from crossing the Dniepr river and to retreat only to the east. This lost the Soviets an opportunity to avoid the danger of encirclement by retreating to the south-east.

The effect of the closing of the Axis forces was to force the concentration of the two Soviet armies into an ever-decreasing area, in which the combined headquarters of the armies were located in the town of Podvisokoye. On 2 August the German encirclement was closed by the junction of the 1st Panzergruppe and the leading formations of the 17th Army, and was reinforced on the following day as Generalleutnant Hans-Valentin Hube’s 16th Panzerdivision met Vezérõrnagy Béla Miklós’s Hungarian Gyorshadtest (mobile corps).

The Axis forces comprised von Reichenau’s 6th Army, von Kleist’s 1st Panzergruppe, von Stülpnagel’s 17th Army, Miklós’s Hungarian Gyorshadtest (mobile corps), Dumitrescu’s Romanian 3rd Army and von Schobert’s 11th Army.

As noted, during the early weeks of the 'Barbarossa' invasion of the USSR, Heeresgruppe 'Süd' had advanced rapidly to the east and south-east, defeating several Soviet mechanised corps in the great armoured Battle of Brody on 23/30 June. The armies of the South-West Front were ordered to retreat to the 'Stalin Line', the line of fortifications along the previous Soviet/Polish border of 1939. von Mackensen’s III Corps (mot.) and Kempf’s XLVIII Corps (mot.) of von Kleist’s 1st Panzergruppe drove a south-easterly wedge between General Major Mikhail I. Potapov’s 5th Army and Muzychenko’s 6th Army. On 5 July, the XLVIII Corps (mot.) broke the weak Soviet defence along the 'Stalin Line' and began to advance at great speed, in the process passing round the right flank of the 6th Army. The Soviets tried to counterattack on 9 July in the direction of Berdichev in order to prevent any farther eastward advance by the 1st Panzergruppe. The fighting then continued until 16 July before the Soviet forces were defeated in this Battle of Uman, and the German offensive then continued.

Farther to the north, the mobile formations of the III Corps (mot.) also overcame the 'Stalin Line' in their area of operations, and reached the approaches to Kiev. Heeresgruppe 'Süd' planned to take Kiev straight off the march, but Adolf Hitler and the high command insisted that there first be a strike to the south with the object of encircling a huge body of Soviet forces in conjunction with von Schobert’s 11th Army. The compromise solution proposed the capture of Belaya Tserkov and after that a drive to the south-west toward a junction with the 11th Army. Such a decision left the possibility, instead of a strike to the south-west, of a continuation of the offensive from Kiev farther to the east, beyond the line of the Dniepr river. Kiev was secured by a separate fortified area, however, and the line of communications of the III Corps (mot.) were threatened by the counterattack of Potapov’s 5th Army. In the first days of Battle of Uman, therefore, the task of encircling the 6th Army and 12th Army from the north and the east was to be undertaken by divisions of the XLVIII Corps (mot.) alone. To aid these formations, the third component of the 1st Panzergruppe, namely von Wietersheim’s XIV Corps (mot.), was transferred from the south and committed between the III Corps (mot.) and the XLVIII Corps (mot.) in the direction toward Belaya Tserkov on the Ros river.

Infantry formations of von Reichenau’s 6th Army on the north moved as rapidly as they could to replace the leading armoured formations, and von Stülpnagel’s 17th Army in the west continued to pursue the retreating 6th Army and 12th Army. The advance of the 11th Army from the Soviet/Romanian border area was brought to a halt by Soviet counterblows, and its planned attack from the south toward Vinnitsa was postponed.

Most of the Soviet forces were already very severely depleted after their withdrawal under heavy German air assaults all the way from the Russo/Polish border, and their various mechanised formations had been reduced to what was in effect a single corps after the Battle of Brody, with its mechanised infantry now reduced to fighting as ordinary infantry.

The Axis forces were armoured and mechanised formations of the 1st Panzergruppe that had suffered major losses in matériel but nonetheless retained a significant combat capability, and the larger numbers of German and Romanian infantry formations that attempted to advance from the west to meet the armoured forces in the area to the north of Crimea.

Since 15 July the XLVIII Corps (mot.) had repulsed the counterattacks of the Soviet 'Berdichev Group' and then resumed the offensive. Hube’s 16th Panzerdivision took Kazatin, about 15.5 miles (25 km) from Berdichev. On the German left, Generalleutnant Ludwig Crüwell’s 11th Panzerdivision had found a gap between Soviet armies and by 16 July had achieved a 45-mile (70-km) breakthrough to the south-east, by 18 July it had advanced another 31 miles (50 km), crossed the Ros river and captured Stavishche. The 16th Panzerdivision, which had first to repel counterattacks by elements of the 6th Army (XXXVII Corps and 'Berdichev Group'), advanced more slowly, but by 17 July its forward detachment had seized Ros station about 40.5 miles (65 km) from Berdichev, where was an important Soviet rear base of rear services support, although on 18 July, elements of the 6th Army managed to recapture the station.

Farther to the north, the XIV Corps (mot.) advanced to Belaya Tserkov, but met counterattacks by Kostenko’s 26th Army, which had been given no time to prepare its offensive with the result that its divisions had no opportunity to concentrate. The 26th Army failed to drive Generalleutnant Alfred Ritter von Hubicki’s 9th Panzerdivision from Belaya Tserkov, but managed to retake Fastov and hold it for a short time. The 26th Army’s advance was soon stopped, but its attacks contained the mobile forces of the 1st Panzergruppe. There was a similar situation with the Panzer divisions of the III Corps (mot.). Generaloberst Franz Halder, the Oberkommando des Heeres’s chief-of-staff, recorded on 18 July that 'the operation of Heeresgruppe 'Süd' is increasingly losing its shape', and that the 'enveloping flank of the 1st Panzergruppe is still hanging about in the area of Berdichev and Belaya Tserkov'. At the same time the 17th Army was approaching from the west too rapidly, and Halder thus feared that the future 'cauldron' would fail to trap significant Soviet forces.

Meanwhile, the 17th Army was attempting to implement a shortened version of the original plan, according to which the Soviet troops were to be surrounded in the area to the west of Vinnitsa. The Germans now had no mobile units to fall on Vinnitsa from the north, for these units were operating in the area to the east of Berdichev, and the offensive of the 11th Army from the south was postponed. Therefore, from the north Generalmajor Hans von Tettau’s 24th Division was marching toward Vinnitsa. Advancing from the south-west, on 17 July Generalleutnant Hubert Lanz’s 1st Gebirgsdivision brought the bridges across the Yuzhny Bug river under fire. Had these German moves been successful, about 50,000 men of the 12th Army would have be0en surrounded. The Soviets regrouped, however, and the arrival of a fresh mountain division from the South Front allowed the Soviets to contain the the advances of the German infantry formations, and by 21 July the Soviets were able to retreat in moderately good order through Vinnitsa across the Yuzhny Bug river.

By 18 July, the Soviet command realised that it lacked sufficient strength to seal the breakthrough of the 1st Panzergruppe and restore the defence along the 'Stalin Line'. Budyonny noted that on the right flank of the 6th army lay a gap of 55.5 miles (90 km) that was steadily filled with German troops. As a result, the Soviets decided to withdraw the 6th Army and 12th Army to the line linking Belaya Tserkov, Tetiev, Kitay-Gorod and Haisyn some 50 to 60 miles (80 to 100 km) to the east onto the line linking Berdichev and Vinnitsa. The South Front’s 18th Army, adjacent to the left flank of the 12th Army, was also ordered to withdraw. The departure was to take place at night and be completed by 21 July. The problem for the Soviets lay in the fact that the armour of the XLVIII Corps (mot.) and XIV Corps (mot.) had already broken through this line. The Soviet command planned to solve this problem by an offensive by three infantry corps, which were to strike to the south-west from Kiev. In addition, on 18 July the II Mechanised Corps received an order to relocate itself from the South Front to Uman and there engage the XLVIII Corps (mot.). In its turn, the German high command on 19 July decided to implement a significant change to the 'Barbarossa' plan: elements of Heeresgruppe 'Mitte' were not to attack Moscow but to attack to the north and south in order to surround the Soviet troops and prevent their withdrawal. The immediate task of Heeresgruppe 'Süd' was to encircle of the 6th Army and 12th Army in the area to the west of the Dniepr river. At the same time, on 18 July, Halder and the command staff of Heeresgruppe 'Süd' decided that the planned attack on Uman would not be sufficient. Uman was to be the target of only a part of the right flank of the 1st Panzergruppe, and the main blow was thus to be directed farther to the east, toward Krivoi Rog.

The second stage of the 26th Army’s first offensive began on 18 July, but ended in failure. As a result of an intercepted radio message, the Germans had notice of the Soviet intention. Because of the northern part of the Soviet line of retreat remained in German hands, the 6th Army began to retreat toward the south-east while preparing a counterattack against the German troops flanking it from the north-east. The counterattacks of the 6th Army and 12th Army in the area of Oratov and Monastyrysche began on 21 July and forced the 16th Division (mot.) and 16th Panzerdivision to switch to the defensive. The II Mechanised Corps, farther to the east, attacked the 11th Panzerdivision and stopped its advance on Uman. By halting the advance of the German strike wedge, the Soviets were able to continue their retreat, although the gap with the 26th Army still remained. Halder was forced to admit that the Soviets had again found a way to withdraw their troops from the threat of an emerging encirclement.

The XVIII Mechanised Corps, part of the South Front’s reserve, was ordered to advance to Uman on 18 July, in company with the II Mechanised Corps, but had then to be employed to close the gap between the 12th Army and the 18th Army, which had been created after the breakthrough of General Ludwig Küblers XLIX Gebirgskorps to Vinnitsa. This breakthrough took the Germans onto the rear of the South Front’s 18th Army. The XVIII Mechanised Corps covered the flanks of both armies and allowed the 18th Army to retreat, and its attacks also distracted the attention of the XLIX Gebirgskorps and alleviated a situation of the 12th Army near Vinnitsa.

By 25 July, the infantry divisions of Heeresgruppe 'Süd' had come up with and start to replace the mobile formations. Near Kiev the III Corps (mot.) was thus freed to begin its movement toward Belaya Tserkov, where the corps' arrival finally crushed another attempt by the 26th Army to restore a continuous front line. The XIV Corps (mot.) was thus able to continue the offensive toward the south-east. To the north and north-west of Uman, the 16th Division (mot.), the 16th Panzerdivision and Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Joseph Dietrich’s SS-Division (mot.) 'Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler' were also made available, and as a result by 31 July the 16th Division (mot.) of the XLVIII Corps (mot.) had taken Talnoye and Novoarkhangyel’sk about 25 miles (40 km) to the east of Uman) and the 9th Panzerdivision of the XIV Corps (mot.) took Ol’shanka, about 46.5 miles (75 km) to the south-east of Uman. Thus the new line along the Sinyuha river specified by the Soviet high command as the stopping point for the retreat of the 6th Army and 12th Army, had been taken by the Germans before the two Soviet armies arrived. In this instance, however, there was nothing the Soviets could make available to parry the breakthrough as the Soviet reserves were completely exhausted: the new armies and divisions and armies, hastily formed by the Soviet command, were still to the east of the Dniepr river.

To the west of Uman, the XLIX Gebirgskorps launched Generalleutnant Willi Schneckenburger’s fresh 125th Division, which took the town of Gaisin on 25 July. Other elements of the same corps rushed into the gap thus opened, and of these elements the 1st Gebirgsdivision achieved the greatest success, for on 26 July it advanced 43.5 miles (70 km) to the south-east to place itself in the rear of the Soviet troops, whose efforts to recover the situation were unsuccessful. In the fighting of 25/27 July, the XLIX Gebirgskorps defeated the XVIII Mechanised Corps and was therefore able to outflank the 12th Army from the south.

On 31 July, the 1st Gebirgsdivision took Golovanevsk, which lies some 28 miles (45 km) to the south-south-east of Uman. On the same day, the last Soviet troops departed Uman, and the 6th Army and 12th Army were trapped in an area measuring some 25 miles (40 km) square, in which they were surrounded by German troops on all but the southern side. The Soviet high command still demanded the trapped armies to attack in a north-easterly direction and link with the 26th Army, for the South-Western Direction was concerned primarily with the creation of a defence line along the Dniepr river. The Soviet command believed mistakenly that the German forces would immediately strike to the east to gain crossing points over the Dniepr river, moves which attacks by the 6th Army and 12th Army from the flank would hinder. In fact, the destruction of the 6th Army and 12th Army were armies was the German forces' first priority. By 1 August, the German command had refused to endorse plans for the immediate encirclement and destruction of the South Front’s 18th Army as well as the destruction of the 6th Army and 12th Army, and therefore orders the XLIX Gebirgskorps to advance to the east and north-east of Golovanevsk along the shortest route to there completion of the encirclement near Uman.

On the morning of 1 August, the commands of the 6th Army and 12th armies or, more properly the remnants of the 6th Army, 12th Army and II Mechanised Corps combined as the Operational Group 'Ponedelin', sent a joint communication to the South Front’s command and copied the message to Stalin: 'The situation has become critical. The encirclement of the 6th and 12th Armies is complete. There is a direct threat of the disintegration of the combined combat order of 6th and 12th Armies…There are no reserves…There is no ammunition, the fuel is running out.' As commander of the South Front, Tyulenev assured Stalin that the situation would be restored by a, attack toward the Operational Group 'Ponedelin' by the fresh 223rd Division from the north-east, and the formations of the 18th Army from the south. Tyulenev also told Stalin that there were no supply problems.

On 1 August, the 18th Army to reach the Operational Group 'Ponedelin' from the south, but the divisions on the right flank of the XLIX Gebirgskorps repelled the attack spearheaded by General Major Ivan V. Galanin’s XVII Corps, and by the evening the 18th Army had com under attack by formations of units of General Kurt von Briesen’s LII Corps and Miklós’s Hungarian Gyorshadtest. The 18th Army’s commander ordered a retreat to Pervomaysk At the same time, the attacks of the XLIX Gebirgskorps on the Operational Group 'Ponedelin' distracted the Soviets and made it possible for the 1st Gebirgsdivision to move still farther to the east.

The 223rd Division, which had only just been created, was wholly inexperienced and just now preparing to attack, succumbed to the sudden assault of blow of Generalleutnant Friedrich Kühn’s 14th Panzerdivision, and was quickly defeated. A breakthrough toward the Operational Group 'Ponedelin' from the north-east was also foiled. Tyulenev continued to believe that only 'leaked' German groups were acting in this direction, while the main forces of the 1st Panzergruppe have already entered the breakthrough, spreading to the south and south-east'.

On 2 August, units of the 1st Gebirgsdivision reached the Sinyuha river, where they joined Hubicki’s 9th Panzerdivision of the XIV Corps (mot.). At this time, other parts of the XLVIII Corps (mot.) and XIV Corps (mot.) were involved in heavy fighting and drove off all attempts by the Operational Group 'Ponedelin' to break out of the Man pocket and move to the east and north-east. The ring of encirclement was closed, however, but was not yet strong. The encirclement was reinforced on the following day, though, when the 16th Panzerdivision met the Gyorshadtest in Pervomaysk

The commanders of the encircled Soviet forces fully appreciated the severity of their armies' situation and in vain requested support. The South Front fell back, and it line was broken several times. The 26th Army was defeated in battles with the 1st Panzergruppe and retreated to the Dniepr river. All attempts by the Operational Group 'Ponedelin' to effect a reunion with other Soviet forces failed, and on the night of 2 August Muzychenko asked for permission to break out of the encirclement toward the south-east run the direction of the South Front’s 18th Army. However, the South Front repeatedly ordered the 6th Army to move to the east as far as the Sinyuha river, which was by this time firmly in the hands of the XLVIII Corps (mot.) and XIV Corps (mot.). Moreover, farther to the east the offensive of Mackensen’s III Corps (mot.) was developing. Between 1 and 5 August the Operational Group 'Ponedelin' attacked mainly in this direction and only some parts of the 6th Army moved to the south and south-east, there by entering into a head-on battle with the XLIX Gebirgskorps.

On 4 August, German troops struck from both sides and destroyed the bridgehead captured by General Major Nikolai I. Proshkin’s Operational Group 'Proshkin' on the eastern bank of the Sinyuha river close to the village of Ternovka. By the evening of 4 August, the Soviet high command had lost almost all interest in the fate of what survived of their forces trapped in the Uman pocket. In his instructions to Kirponos, the commander of the South-West Front, Stalin demanded the creation of a powerful defence line along the Dniepr river, and mentioned the fate of the 6th Army and 12th Army only in response to a question by Kirponos. On 6 August another Soviet offensive towards Uman from the north-east was planned, but in reality the armies were abandoned to their own devices. In the south, the 18th Army’s right flank was scattered and partially surrounded near Pervomaysk, and by 5 August the area still held by surrounded Soviet troops, which now numbered about 65,000 men, measured only 6.1 miles (10 km) square, all of which was under German fire.

On the night of 6 August, some of the Soviet troops made a desperate attempt to break out of the encirclement. This time they struck to the south, assuming that they were strong enough to break through the positions of the XLIX Gebirgskorps and link with the 18th Army’s formations to the north of Pervomaysk However, Pervomaysk had been lost on 3 August, a fact which the South Front did not report. The 6th Army planned to break out of the encirclement by collecting the last available tanks in a 'special task' column. Detachments of Lanz’s 1st Gebirgsdivision and Generalleutnant Karl Eglseer’s 4th Gebirgsdivision could not stop the nocturnal breakthrough, and the Soviet strike force marched 12.5 miles (20 km) and even took Golovanevsk before meeting, not the 18th Army as it had hoped, but the LII Corps and the 9th Panzerdivision, by which it was brought to a halt. In the course of the breakthrough, the Soviets suffered heavy losses, and by the morning of 7 August had for the most part been routed: thus only small groups without heavy weapons managed to escape the German encirclement. The 'special task' column was annihilated, and Muzychenko was taken prisoner.

On the following night, the Soviets repeated their break-out attempt. On this occasion, element largely of the 12th Army and the II Mechanised Corps broke through to the east and north-east. The latter direction proved partially successful, abut only a small detachments were able to escape from the encirclement. Ponedelin was taken prisoner after his tank had been hit.

During the afternoon of 7 August, Soviet troops surrounded in the forests near the villages Podvysokoye and Kopenkovatoye started to surrender. In total, the commanders of the 6th Army and 12th Army, four corps commanders and 11 divisional commanders were taken prisoner.

By 8 August the Soviet resistance had generally stopped, the remnants of 20 divisions of the 6th Army and 12th Army being trapped. German sources after the war reported that about 203,000 Soviet soldiers were taken prisoner, among these being the commanders of the 6th Army and 12th Army, four corps commanders and 11 divisional commanders; it is believed that about 100,000 other men had been killed or wounded. The Soviet forces also lost 317 tanks and 858 pieces of artillery.

As the pocket was eliminated, the tanks of the 1st Panzergruppe turned to the north, and attacked toward Kiev under instruction to aid Generaloberst Heinz Guderian’s 2nd Panzergruppe of Generalfeldmarschall Fedor von Bock’s Heeresgruppe 'Mitte' in closing another encirclement around that city. Thus the Crimean objective was for a time left to the field armies: this was only the first of many times in which Adolf Hitler was to change his mind about strategic objectives of the German army groups fighting on the Eastern Front.

The Stavka used the respite offered by the German refocusing of the 1st Panzergruppe to re-establish its front using General Major Matvei V. Zakharov’s 9th Independent Coastal Army and either re-forming the destroyed armies, or bringing up reserves such as General Major Andrei A. Vlasov’s 37th Army and General Leytenant Viktor V. Tsyganov’s 56th Army from the interior military districts, with General Major Aleksei G. Maslov’s 38th Army eventually left to hold an over-stretched Kharkov sector of the front.