The faintest hint came from the Battle of Moscow in the harsh winter of 1941. That the invincible German juggernaut was not infallible. Stalingrad underlined it boldly. The days of Hitler were numbered. It was only a matter of time. Kursk was the last strong surge by the Germans to clutch at the rapidly receding victory in Russia.
After that the downfall had begun. A long series of hard fought battles that the German army fought with desperation but all adding to the increasing gloom of the approaching disaster.
We start here with Crimea.
GERMANS LOSE CRIMEA: HISTORY IN BRIEF
Killed and missing: 31,700
Killed and missing: 25,800
Killed and missing: 57,500
VIDEO: HAPPIER TIMES FOR THE GERMANS: OCCUPY CRIMEA 1942
Sevastopol was not the fortress it had been in early 1942, when it took German forces weeks of the heaviest fighting to capture it. The mighty fortress works had been shot up and blown apart, German-installed naval guns and coastal batteries faced seaward, the existing bunkers, forts and casemates had not been repaired an were serving as bullet-proof accommodations for headquarters, hospitals, assembly areas and so on. The field positions in the main line of resistance had been beefed up, with barbed wire in front, but there was no in-depth system of defenses with strongpoints or a second and third line. Because of the hard limestone the trenches could not be dug deep enough. The only well-built rear position was on the small Khersonyes Peninsula. The poor state of the fortress was not the only disadvantage facing the defenders. During the retreat the Luftwaffe had lost all its airfields in the Crimea and was left with only two fields near Sevastopol and on the Khersonyes Peninsula, which would soon be under Soviet artillery fire.
Russian soldiers examine a wrecked German Panzer 3