Downfall: Germans Lose Ukraine: 1943-44

German machine-gunner Zhitomir Ukraine November 1943
Vision of hell. German machine-gunner in the burning heart of Zhitomir. Ukraine, in November 1943. The town fell to the Russians on November 12, 1943

The fate of the German Sixth Army surrounded in Stalingrad was decided in early 1943, marking the turning point in the eastern campaign. From then on the German forces were steadily on the retreat in the face of continual Soviet offensives. As 1944 began, the superiority of the Red Army had become so crushing, aided by the obstinacy at the highest levels of German command, that the German Eastern Front, which was under heavy pressure everywhere, suffered a number of disasters which cost the eastern armies alone more than half a million German soldiers killed, missing and wounded.

Situation map published in the "Charlotte News" on April 4, 1944

 Waffen SS officers Mayerdress SS Erwin  SS Kurt Meyer 1943
 SS officers meet to discuss strategy. Mayerdress SS Erwin and SS Kurt Meyer over a map of combat operations. The commander of the 1st Company, 3rd Tank Regiment SS Division "Totenkopf" -  Hauptsturmf├╝hrer  SS Erwin Mayerdress (Hubert-Erwin Meierdress) and commander of the 1st razvedyvatelnog Battalion of Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler"  Obersturmbannf├╝hrer   SS Kurt Meyer (Kurt Adolf Wilhelm Meyer) over a map of combat operations. Part of the 1st SS Division and the 3rd SS Division, advancing on Kharkov, met in a village near Kharkov Peresechnaya March 9, 1943.

Red Army engineers build bridge  River Dnieper north-east of Kiev
Red Army engineers build a bridge across the River Dnieper, north-east of Kiev


German soldiers, armed with assault rifles, StG-44 near Pripyat, Ukraine. February 1944
German soldiers, armed with assault rifles, StG-44 near Pripyat, Ukraine. February 1944.

German machine gun crew prepares MG firing position banks  Dnieper. 1943
German machine gun crew prepares MG firing position on the banks of the Dnieper. 1943. Seen in the river is a destroyed bridge.
German prisoners Soviet T-70  captured repainted Germans
German prisoners file past a Soviet T-70 tank that was captured and repainted by the Germans. Near Kiev, 1944. August 16, 1944.

German POWs marched on the streets of Kiev. August 16, 1944
German POWs marched on the streets of Kiev. August 16, 1944. Local residents and Red Army soldiers watch standing. The residents of Kiev hurled abuses at the passing German prisoners. 

German self-propelled gun, "Hummel"
A German self-propelled gun, "Hummel", destroyed by Soviet artillery near Lvov, 1944.

Red army soldiers captured Panther tank Uman 1944
Soviet soldiers inspect a "Panther" tank captured in Uman, March 13, 1944.

German tank Pz.Kpfw. VI (Tiger)  506 th Heavy Tank Battalion
German tank Pz.Kpfw. VI (Tiger) of the 506 th Heavy Tank Battalion in western Ukraine. May 4, 1944.

Russians re-take Kharkov. August 1943
Russians re-take Kharkov. August 1943

Germans  testing telephone lines river Dnieper 1943.
The Germans  testing telephone lines, laid across the river Dnieper. In 1943.

German 88-mm antitank gun PaK 43
German 88-mm antitank gun PaK 43 mounted in position on the banks of the Dnieper. September 1943.

German soldiers Tiger tank battle. Ukraine. Winter 1943-44
German soldiers charging behind a Tiger tank during battle. Ukraine. Winter 1943-44

Liberated Odessa 1944. Russian soldiers  horses
Liberated Odessa in 1944. Russian soldiers ride on horses through a street in Odessa which is strewn with debris of destroyed German war vehicles

Newspaper heading April 4 1944 Reds 11 miles inside Romania
Image source (Right click to see entire image)

German prisoners of war  Odessa. July 13, 1944.
A group of German prisoners of war near Odessa. July 13, 1944.

German prisoners of war central Ukraine 1943
German prisoners of war in central Ukraine. In 1943.

German prisoners  Ukrainian village. January 1944.
Group of German prisoners in a Ukrainian village. January 1944.

SS Division "Viking". The battle for Kovel (Volyn region, Ukraine), March-April 1944.
Indefatigable men from SS Division "Viking". The battle for Kovel (Volyn region, Ukraine), March-April 1944.

German Marder II self-propelled gun Ukrainian village
German Marder II self-propelled gun waits in ambush, between the houses, in a Ukrainian village. In 1944.

Red Army Vinnitsa. 1944
The Red Army enters the town of Vinnitsa. 1944

Red Army  liberation of Odessa April 1944.
Attack of the Soviet infantry during the liberation of Odessa, in April 1944.


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Points To Ponder


It is difficult to distinguish between the quality of both the German and Russian soldiers. Both were motivated by their love for their motherland. But there were others factors that drove the two sides to such desperate fighting.

One, both sides knew that this was a no-holds bar war. Not fighting was thus not an option.

Second, both Hitler and Stalin had squads that killed any deserter. Turning away from fighting was just not possible.

Thus was seen some of the most bitter, brutal and desperate fighting on the WW2 eastern (Russian) Front.
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-- George Santayana


"Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue.'
--Mao Zedong


"The main thing is to make history, not to write it."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite."
--Winston Churchill


"In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers."
--August Bebel

"God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best."

Quotes about War....

"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war."
---Otto von Bismarck


"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
--Hermann Goering


"To conquer the enemy without resorting to war is the most desirable. The highest form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by strategy."
--Tzu Sun

"All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world; So why do winds and waves clash so fiercely everywhere?"
--Emperor Hirohito