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Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

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Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

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The Russian Ministry of Defense declassified documents to mark the 75th anniversary of the Crimean Offensive that took place between April 8th and May 12th, 1944.

Dubbed the “Spring of Victory,” the documents present some of the operations and soldiers that took part in the series of attacks by the Red Army to liberate the Nazi-occupied Crimea in which Romanian and German forces suffered considerable losses. The documents cover the entire timeline from 1942 when the German army breached and Crimea was occupied, until it was liberated.

On August 30th, 1941, the commander of the 51st Separate Army, Colonel-General F.I. Kuznetsov, ordered the organization of the defense of the most important centers of the Crimea by army units.

According to the order, it was necessary to create fortified areas around Simferopol, Karasubazar (now Belogorsk), Evpatoria and Feodosia.

The work on the creation of anti-tank and anti-personnel barricades, which began on September 1st, 1941 also included the local populace.

From October 31st, 1941, the unit led defensive battles in front of Sevastopol and stopped the enemy at a 10 km-wide front. Continuously for two months, the brigade was exhausting the enemy, not allowing the enemy to break into Sevastopol.

The last battle for the marines of the 8th Separate Marine Brigade of the Black Sea Fleet took place on December 31st, 1941 and on January 1st, 1942.

The enemy took heavy losses, but so did the Russian brigade. On January 8th, 1942, the command of the Primorskaya Army decided to disband it.

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Map of the Primorskaya Army deployments as of December 17-19, 1941. Click to see full-size image

The besieged Sevastopol needed help. In the summer of 1942, the command of the 2nd submarine brigade of the Black Sea Fleet was tasked to deliver cargo to the besieged city, and to rescue wounded and the civilian population.

In order to fulfill the assigned tasks, the crews of the submarines unloaded the torpedoes, leaving only 50% of the ammunition, removed the extra parts, and took provisions for only six days.

Due to the likely threat from enemy submarines during the day, they went underwater, and at night in the surface.

Three places were identified for unloading cargo and receiving the wounded: Kamyshevaya Bay, Cossack Bay and Streletskaya Bay. In Sevastopol, submarines delivered mines, canned goods, concentrates, gasoline.

Submarine campaigns were accompanied by constant bombardment of enemy aircraft, as well as the threat of the Nazi fleet.

In 1944, on April 9th, the troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front launched an offensive on the Crimean Peninsula. The city of Kerch was liberated on April 11th.

On April 12th, Soviet troops entered the city of Feodosia, on April 14th recaptured the city of Sudak and reached the south-eastern outskirts of Simferopol, on April 14th the city of Yalta was liberated.

On May 7th, the troops of the Primorskaya Army launched an offensive with the task of the final defeat of the enemy occupying Sevastopol.

On May 9th, 1944, the troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front commanded by General of the Army F.I. Tolbukhina stormed the city and the sea fortress of Sevastopol.

Presented are also some of the heroes of the Crimean Offensive:

  • Alexey Georgievich Toropkin – during the defense of Crimea he was the senior adjutant of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the 276th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Infantry Division, which fought in the area of Sapun – the mountains on the outskirts of Sevastopol. On May 7th, 1944, the battalion of Captain Toropkin was the first to burst into the trenches of the enemy. And he himself killed 14 Nazis in close-range combat. Toropkin was awarded with the title “Hero of the Soviet Union.”
  • Vasilyi Aleksandrovich Yershov – Private Ershov was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. On April 13th, he was carrying out reconnaissance as part of a tank crew, when approaching the village of Ashagah-Jali, the tank was suddenly fired upon and disarmed. They got surrounded by paratroopers and for two hours fought two Romanian battalions. Private Yershov was captured and tortured for information. He was beaten, his legs and arms were broken, his ribs were shattered, his jaw was crushed. Naked, mutilated, bleeding our soldiers were led to be executed. After the Romanians departed, the local population rushed to the torn bodies and found that one had signs of life – Private Yershov had survived, but only for a little while. They failed to save him.
  • Ivan Terentyevich Tymoshenko – Along with Private Yershov was his comrade sapper of the 3rd Guards Motorcycle Engineer Battalion, Private Tymoshenko. When the Romanian officer told the soldiers to surrender, Private Tymoshenko replied: “The Red Army gives up to no one.” He died bleeding profusely, but nothing could make him betray his comrades.
  • Yevgenyi Petrovich Polyakov – A submarine commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Captain 3rd rank Polyakov Yevgeny Petrovich participated in the liberation of the Crimea and Sevastopol. He took part in 23 campaigns, sunk 7 enemy ships. The crew of the submarine he commanded was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
  • Aleksandr Grigorievich Svidersky – On April 17th, 1944, during the fighting in the city of Dzhankoy, the commander of the 867th self-propelled artillery regiment, Major Svidersky, received a fatal wound. His regiment broke into the city and captured it, destroying one tank, 15 vehicles, one armored train, 4 anti-aircraft installations and up to 400 enemy soldiers and officers. Having captured Zuya’s transport hub, the soldiers under the command of Major Svidersky cut off the Nazi group that was leaving Kerch. Major Svidersky received a fatal wound in the last push for Sevastopol, but did not leave the battlefield, continuing to command the regiment.
  • Konstantin Yakovlevich Talah – During the storming of the city of Armyansk, junior sergeant Talakh Konstantin Yakovlevich, the commander of the rifle squad of the 690th rifle regiment of the 126th rifle division, was the first at the head of his unit to rush to the enemy fortifications. Despite the enemy fire, he moved to the enemy’s bunker and with grenades destroyed their heavy machine gun, killing three Nazis in the process. During the fights in the city he killed five more Nazi soldiers. Having expertly organized the defense, the detachment under the command of the junior sergeant repulsed four enemy counterattacks and, launching an offensive and driving them out of the city.
  • Vladimir Gavrilovich Vasilevsky – The navigator of the 1st air squadron of the 30th reconnaissance air regiment of the Air Force of the Black Sea Fleet, Captain Vasilevsky participated in the defense of Sevastopol. With his participation, 22 tanks and armored vehicles, 5 anti-aircraft batteries were destroyed. In an air battle, his crew personally shot down 3 aircraft. As a scout, despite the difficult weather conditions and countering the enemy’s anti-aircraft artillery, he successfully conducted deep rear reconnaissance. Vasilevsky’s crew took part in the landing of troops in Kerch, Feodosia, Novorossiysk.

In the daily newspaper of the 51st Army “Son of the Fatherland” dated May 15th, 1944, an article was posted about a rally held in Simferopol. The event was attended by General F. I. Tolbukhin of the 4th Ukrainian Front.

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Newspaper article in Son of the Motherland praising the mastery and the honor of the heroes of Sevastopol. Click to see full-size image

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Newspaper article from Son of the Fatherland, showing the rally in Simferopol with General Tolbukhin in attendance. Click to see full-size image

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Article in Son of the Fatherland, listing those who were awarded medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, Kotuzov medal, etc. Click to see full-size image

Following is a schematic of the placement of the enemy fortifications in the area of the city of Sevastopol according to aerial photography data over the period of April 13th and 20th, 1944 as well as captured materials.

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

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On the Nazi side, the order to the commander of the 17th Army of May 3, 1944, which was captured by Soviet intelligence in the region of Sevastopol, Infantry General Almenddinger ordered:

“We are given the opportunity to bleed the numerically superior forces of the Reds on the Sevastopol front. I demand that all soldiers defend to the last. The bridgehead for the entire depth is highly equipped in engineering terms and the enemy, wherever he appears, will get entangled in the network of our fortifications. None of us should even think of withdrawing from these positions …”

Despite these high and mighty plans, there was also a contingency operation by the Nazis – Operation Tiger. To evacuate from Crimea and to cause as much destruction as possible while withdrawing.

It detailed with German accuracy and practicality sets out the objects scheduled for destruction. Among them: the most important Crimean roads, harbors, all economic structures, airfields, dams, railways, communications facilities, bridges, industrial enterprises.

Luckily, it did not come to that.

Following are photographs showing the reality of events during the Crimean Offensive:

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

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Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Click to see full-size image

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Click to see full-size image

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Click to see full-size image

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Click to see full-size image

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Click to see full-size image

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Click to see full-size image

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Click to see full-size image

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

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Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

Click to see full-size image

Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

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Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

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Russian Defense Ministry Declassified Historical Records On the 75th Anniversary of the Crimean Offensive

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  • FlorianGeyer

    They were tough times for enlisted soldiers, whichever army one was in.

  • Barba_Papa

    The Soviets fought a magnificent war to rid the world of the Fascist Beast, something the West should do well to remember. I call them Soviets because modern day Russia was only a part of the former USSR. So more then just Russians fought, bled and died. But the Russians should do well to remember their own lost battles. No mention is made in this article of the battle of the Kerch peninsula, from december 1941 to may 1942, when the Red Army tried to relieve besieged Sevastopol, crossed the Kerch straight and basically suffered its version of the WW1 battle of Gallipoli. The Red Army suffered half a million losses in this doomed campaign. Is this campaign now forgotten, like so many of the desperate lost battle and offensives of 1941 and 1942? To even speak ill of the poor decisions by the Soviet leadership in those year (*cough* Stalin *cough*) is enough to have the wrath of the Russian state fall upon any poor historian. And in order for history to be truly appreciated and valued the bad has to be examined and shed light upon, not just the good.

    The myth of the Good War is an addictive one, and WW2 serves that role to both Russia and the US. And in both countries this myth is not in the best interest of both countries. It causes the Americans to become Team America, World Police. And the Russians to be blind to their own mistakes, and why almost all of Eastern Europe, and many of the former Soviet Republics couldn’t wait to join NATO.

  • Brian Michael Bo Pedersen

    Very interesting article and documents!

  • chris chuba

    Just propaganda to make is sound like Crimea is Russian instead of U.S. territory.

    • Concrete Mike

      Crim= Rus.

      Deal with it.

      • occupybacon

        Crimea always USA

    • BMWA1

      hahaha

    • Black Waters

      Are you joking right? just asking.

      • chris chuba

        Of course. Crimea has been Russian longer than Texas has been part of the U.S.

  • Smaug

    During the siege itself the fighting was rather one sided in the Axis favor. One problem was the Germans managed to bring up I think two superguns to pound the city while most of the big guns in Crimea were coastal batteries that were pointing the wrong way and it was difficult getting them where they were needed.
    Also, a lot of people in a confined space with limited transportation, guess what? Starvation.
    The Germans could have hypothetically stormed the city, but there were many fronts and other offensives were considered more important.
    Things did improve as the war progressed with the improvement to the Lend-Lease Program and Axis defeats east of the River Don. So by the time Crimea was liberated, there was no question how the war was ending.

  • Black Waters

    I’m just glad that Putin protected Crimean citizens from ukrops under porky and U.S invasion of Ukraine.

    • Toronto Tonto

      US invasion of Ukraine ??????????? , you mean the terrorist Russia invasion into Ukraine .

      • Nosferatu

        Yes he is correct. US invasion of Ukraine. Dont forget Obama admited US organized th UA coup in 2014. “We have brokered the power transition in Ukraine” Barack Obama
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcZH_20taPs&t=4s

      • Black Waters

        How much? How much did the U.S terrorist government paid you to said bullshit here?

  • Real Anti-Racist Action

    Russia could have avoided both world wars entirely if they had wanted to.

    Why Germany Attacked the Soviet Union
    Two Historic Documents

    Joseph Goebbels announces to the world the stunning news that German, Finnish and Romanian forces were launching an attack against the Soviet Union. Broadcasting from Berlin early Sunday morning, June 22, 1941, the Reich Minister reads the text of Hitler’s proclamation explaining the background and reasons for the attack – the largest military campaign in history.

    As dawn was breaking on Sunday morning, June 22, 1941, military forces of Germany, Finland and Romania suddenly struck against the Soviet Union along a broad front stretching hundreds of miles from the Arctic Circle in the far north to the Black Sea in the south. Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, and Croatia quickly joined the campaign – the largest military offensive in history. Soldiers from those nations were soon joined by volunteers from other European countries, including France, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Spain, and Belgium.

    The stunning news of this attack was announced to the world by German radio at 5:30 that Sunday morning, when Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels broadcast the text of a proclamation by Adolf Hitler to the German people that laid out his reasons for the historic offensive.

    Following that was the broadcast of Germany’s declaration of war against the Soviet Union. This was in the form of a diplomatic note to the Soviet government, read by Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop to a packed and hastily organized news conference of journalists representing the German press, as well as newspapers across Europe and overseas.

    This Foreign Office statement explains in some detail the German government’s reasons for the momentous decision to attack the USSR. About two hours earlier, Ribbentrop had given the text to the Soviet ambassador in Berlin, while at the same time the German ambassador in Moscow was delivering a shorter version of it to the Soviet Foreign Minister.

    The text of Ribbentrop’s statement, quickly distributed by Germany’s DNB news agency, appeared the next day in newspapers in Germany and abroad. An English-language text, which contained a number of errors due perhaps to the haste with which it had been prepared, appeared in The New York Times.

    Although the two German statements of June 22 portrayed a grave and looming Soviet threat, they actually understated the scale of the danger. While Hitler and his generals knew that the Red Army was large and formidable, they had seriously underestimated its size and power. This miscalculation proved to be an important and probably decisive factor in the failure to crush the Soviet military by the onset of winter 1941-42, as planned – which then made possible the ultimate triumph of the Red Army in the titanic four-year clash.

    By June 1941, the Soviet air force was not only the world’s largest, it was greater than the combined air forces of all other countries together. Similarly, the Soviet airborne assault force – which could be used only in offensive operations – was not only larger than Germany’s, it was larger than the combined paratroop forces of the rest of the world. The Soviet Red Army’s tank force was not only the world’s largest, it was larger than the tank forces of the rest of the world combined.

    German leaders did not know that the Soviets were already producing the T-34, KV-1 and KV-2 tanks, the heaviest and most deadly in the world, and more formidable than any German model. Nor they did they know that the Soviet military had more than 4,000 amphibious tanks – which were meant only for offensive operations – while the Germans had none.

    The Germans were also unaware of how the Soviets had been preparing their military commanders for war. For example, at a secret speech to military academy graduates in May 1941, just weeks earlier, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin said: “In conducting the defense of our country, we are compelled to act in an aggressive manner. From defense we have to shift to a military policy of offense. It is indispensable that we reform our training, our propaganda, our press to a mindset of offense. The Red Army is a modern army, and the modern army is an army of offense.”

    It did not take long for German leaders to realize that they had greatly misjudged the scope of the Soviet military buildup. On August 11, 1941 – just eight weeks after the start of “Operation Barbarossa” – General Franz Halder, chief of the German army high command, noted in his diary: “In the situation as a whole, it is becoming ever clearer that we have underestimated the Russian colossus, which has consciously prepared for the war with the absolute lack of restraint that is peculiar to totalitarian states … At the outset of the war we reckoned with about 200 enemy divisions. Now we are already counting 360.”

    A week later – on August 19 – the well informed Reich Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, similarly noted in his diary: “We obviously quite underestimated the Soviet shock power and, above all, the equipment of the Soviet army. We had nowhere near any idea of what the Bolsheviks had available. This led to erroneous decision-making …”

    Hitler himself acknowledged, both in public and in private, that he had misjudged the extent and scale of the Soviet threat. “Certainly, though, we were mistaken about one thing,” the German leader told a large audience in Berlin on Oct. 3, 1941. “We had no idea how gigantic the preparations of this enemy were against Germany and Europe, and how immeasurably great was the danger; how we just barely escaped annihilation, not only of Germany but also of Europe.”

    The US government responded to the news of the German-led offensive with an official statement, issued by Deputy Secretary of State Sumner Welles. Completely ignoring the points made by the leaders in Berlin, it claimed that Germany’s “treacherous” attack was part of a plan by Hitler “for the cruel and brutal enslavement of all peoples and for the ultimate destruction of the remaining free democracies.” Actually, it was the Soviet Union – the world’s most oppressive regime at the time – that was dedicated to the eradication of “free democracies” and to the ultimate triumph of “proletarian dictatorship” in all countries. Stalin had made clear his elemental hostility to “free democracy” when the Red Army tried impose a Bolshevik regime on Finland in the “Winter War” of 1939-1940. In fact, soldiers of Finland – a parliamentary democracy – were now fighting as allies of Hitler’s Germany against the Soviets.

    The American public, largely ignorant of European affairs and conditioned by years of media propaganda and alarmist rhetoric by President Franklin Roosevelt, generally accepted their government’s view of the conflict. “Of course,” Roosevelt told reporters on June 24, “we are going to give all the aid that we possibly can to Russia.” In violation of its proclaimed status as a neutral country, and with disregard for international law, the US was soon providing military aid to Soviet Russia.

    Influential American historians have for years accepted the official US view of the German-Soviet clash. They portrayed the German-led offensive as a treacherous and unprovoked surprise attack against a peaceable country, motivated above all by grandiose visions of empire. Typical is the view of James MacGregor Burns, a prominent US historian and specialist of twentieth century American history. In his widely acclaimed book Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom he dismissed the German Foreign Office declaration of June 22, 1941, as a “pack of Nazi lies.”

    In recent years, however, a growing number of historians have assembled considerable evidence that validates key points made by Hitler and the German government, and which shows that the Soviets were preparing a massive assault. The most influential of these historians has probably been a former Soviet GRU military intelligence officer, Vladimir Rezun. In a series of books written under the pen name of Viktor Suvorov, he has presented impressive evidence to show that the Soviet regime was preparing a massive offensive against Germany and Europe, and that the German-led attack forestalled an imminent Soviet strike. It is Stalin, not Hitler – he says – who should be considered the “chief culprit” of World War II.

    Numerous documents and other historical evidence have come to light in recent decades that confirm key points made in the German statements of June 22, 1941. This evidence also thoroughly discredits the simplistic portrayal of the German-Soviet clash, and indeed of the Second World War itself, that US officials and prominent historians presented to the American public during the war, and for years afterwards.

    Even if the leaders in Germany, Finland, and other European countries were mistaken in believing that a Soviet assault was imminent, they certainly had ample reason to regard the Stalin regime as a dangerous threat, and to conclude that the Soviets were deploying vast military forces in preparation for attack at some point in the future. The reasons given by Hitler and his government to justify the German-led attack were not lies or pretexts.

    Indeed, the German, Finnish, and Romanian leaders had more valid and substantive cause to strike against the USSR in June 1941 than American leaders have had for launching a number of wars – including against Mexico in 1845, against Spain in 1898, and against Iraq in 2003. In none of those cases did the country attacked by US military forces present a clear and present danger to the US, or a threat to vital American national interests.

    Because Hitler’s proclamation of June 22, 1941, and the German Foreign Office declaration of the same day, explain at some length the reasons and motives for the fateful decision to strike against the USSR, these are documents of historic importance. The texts of specially prepared translations of these two statements are given below in full.

    – Mark Weber, March 2019

    • PZIVJ

      Interesting, but sounds like Goebbels propaganda at the time, as to Soviet Union being an offensive threat.Seems that Stalin had convinced himself that Germany would not attack, maybe in denial of what was about to take place.

    • Nosferatu

      Hitler wrote about attacking Soviet Union all the way back in 1925 in Mein Kampf. That is the exact reason why he was made German Kanzler. USSR could not avoid being attacked by Hitler, because it was not Hitler alone, that wanted to destroy the first ever country on earth not ruled by global oligarchy…….

  • Toronto Tonto

    Russia should get out of Ukraine including Crimea .

    • Gregory Casey

      Crimea is now and has always been a part of Russia since the Turks were evicted. I do hope you know that the only reason why Crimea formed a constituent part of Ukraine following the break-up of the Soviet Union? I don’t suppose you do but the reason is simple and it’s because while the Ukrainian-born Leader of USSR, Nikita Khrushchev was visiting Crimea in 1954 at a time when Crimea was a Province of Russia, he decided to gift Crimea to Ukraine in drunken homage to himself. Crimea is predominantly Russian and not Ukrainian. It never was Ukrainian and never will be. The Referendum results of 2014 should tell you everything you need to know about the loyalties of those lucky enough to live in and be a part of Crimea. More than 80% of the Electorate voted and of those who voted, 95% approx voted to secede from Ukraine and to become a part of Russia again.

  • Toronto Tonto

    Did Germany and Russia not start WW2 together with plans to divide up Poland ?????.
    Sept. 1 1939 krauts enter Poland from the west , sept. 17 soviet troops come into Poland from the east .