The city of Kiev, the liberation from the Nazi invaders: date, value. Kiev offensive operation in 1943
In the period from August to December 1943, the Soviet command launched a massive offensive, called the “Battle of the Dnieper”. The Kiev offensive operation became its integral part and went down in history not only because of the heroism of the participants in the liberation of the capital of Ukraine, which was of great strategic importance, but also because of the incomparable number of losses incurred.
Defeats of the first days of the war
The city of Kiev was captured by the fascists on September 19, 1941. Despite the command of the command to keep the city at all costs, this was not possible. Much of the industrial enterprises were evacuated, but thousands of its inhabitants actually remained hostages during the 778 days of occupation.
The battle for Kiev, lost in September 41, and the loss of the whole of Ukraine, became the most serious defeats of the start of the war, as a result of which the Germans opened the way to Moscow from the south. In addition, the territories supplying the country with coal and grain reserves were in their hands, which enabled it to continue the struggle in winter conditions.
Preparations for the liberation of the Ukrainian capital
In this regard, as soon as the war broke, caused by victories in the battles of Kursk and Stalingrad, the Supreme Command was ordered to start a large-scale offensive on the territory of Left-Bank Ukraine. One of the main thrusts of the strike was Kiev, the liberation of which in those conditions was of immense moral importance and should have contributed to raising the overall morale of the army. In addition, it opened the way for Soviet troops in Eastern Europe.
The assault on Kiev was preceded by a series of operations, the execution of which was the most important military-political task set by the Supreme Command Headquarters. The main one was the forcing of the Dnieper. The scale of the ensuing battle is evidenced by the factthat about 4 million people took part in it on both sides, and it even surpassed the battle for Stalingrad in the number of casualties.
The troops who participated in the Battle of the Dnieper
To fulfill the tasks set by the Supreme Command and Stalin personally, five fronts were immediately involved: Central (under the command of K. Rokossovsky), Voronezh (under the command of N. Vatutin), Stepnoy (headed by I. Konev), South-West (commander R. Malinovsky), Yuzhny (F. Tolbukhin).
The overall coordination of the actions of the Armed Forces was entrusted to the marshals of G. Zhukov and A. Vasilevsky. Thus, at the time of the operation, about 2 million 640 thousand soldiers and officers of the Soviet army appeared in their submission. In addition, 51.3 thousand guns and mortars, 2.4 thousand self-propelled artillery installations and tanks were pulled to the front stretching for almost 1,400 km. From the air, 3 thousand combat aircraft hit the enemy. As can be seen from all of the above, the significance of the liberation of Kiev was so great that neither human nor technical resources were spared for its achievement.
Capture of Lyutezhsky and Bukrinsky bridgeheads
The battle for Kiev began with the capture of the Voronezh Front (later renamed the 1st Ukrainian) by two strategic important areas,located on the left bank of the Dnieper and the bridgeheads of the future offensive. One - Lyutezhsky - was located 30 km north of the Ukrainian capital, and the other - Bukrynsky - 80 km south. It was from him that the first attempt was undertaken — and failed — to capture the city.
Having urgently reviewed the plan of the operation, on October 24, the command issued an order to transfer the main offensive operations from the Bukrinsky bridgehead to Lyutezhsky, to which forces of the 7th artillery and 23rd infantry corps, as well as the 3rd Guards Tank Army and a number of other nearby were urgently redeployed divisions. The subsequent success of the operation was largely due to the secrecy of the regrouping of troops. Thanks to her, the German command, who did not expect such a powerful blow, was not ready to repel it.
By the beginning of the Soviet offensive, the city of Kiev was defended by the forces of the 7th combined-arms corps of the Wehrmacht, as well as by eleven infantry and two tank divisions. From its northern side, the Germans erected three powerful lines of fortifications reinforced with a complex engineering system.On the Soviet side, in the first offensive echelon, from 17 to 20 rifle divisions, as well as 4 tank and one cavalry corps, opposed the enemy forces.
The first stage of the liberation of Kiev
As a result of the joint efforts of all five fronts, by the beginning of September almost the entire Left-Bank Ukraine was liberated, and the Soviet troops occupied the main positions along the bank of the Dnieper, from Zaporozhye to Loyev, whose length exceeded 700 km. In the middle of the month, the Wehrmacht command issued an order to their units to go to the right bank and create a defense line there.
To this end, the retreat of the Germans was carried out in the direction of previously established ferries, located near Dnepropetrovsk, Kremenchug, Cherkasy, Kanev and, finally, Kiev. This ended the first preparatory stage of the battle for the Dnieper, without success in which the plans for the liberation of the capital of Ukraine were not feasible.
On September 21 and 22, after the left bank was completely under the control of the Soviet troops, it began to be forced by units of the Voronezh and Central Fronts, which immediately created new springboards on the right bank for the development of the offensive.
The beginning of the attack on Kiev
The liberation of the Ukrainian capital began with a massive artillery preparation, which lasted for 40 minutes. It was carried out by units of the 7th Artillery Corps, as well as batteries of the 1st Ukrainian Army.
This was followed by the offensive of the main group of troops from the Bukrin base, which managed to advance to a distance of 2-3 km. Her task was to block the German units guarding the city and prevent the reinforcement approach.
Following this, the forces of the 5th Guards Tank Corps, supported by units of the 38th and 60th armies, managed to drive the enemy another 12 kilometers. At the same time, the troops of the 60th Army launched an offensive from two strong points located near the villages of Glebovka and Yasnogorodka, thereby covering the northern flank of the 38th Army.
On the outskirts of Kiev
By the end of the first day of the offensive part of the 240th Infantry Division, rushing to the city and supported by the fire of the 7th Artillery Corps, having advanced a considerable distance, managed to clear the enemy from the suburb of Kiev - Pushche-Voditsa. This was preceded by several counterattacks of the enemy, choked under the onslaught of the Soviet troops, the direction of impact of which was directly Kiev.
The liberation of Pusche-Voditsa allowed the use of this settlement as a springboard for the strike that followed the next day. However, on November 4, despite the powerful onslaught carried out by the combined forces of the 38th Army and two tank corps, it was not possible to enter the city, and the offensive was suspended on the northern border of Kiev.
On the same day, units of the 237th rifle division crossed the Dnieper near the villages of Vita-Litovsk and Pirogovo, located 15 km from Kiev, and the 3rd Guards Tank Division managed to capture the highway passing along the coast. As a result, the path was cut for the approach of enemy reinforcements, as well as the units that began to leave Kiev the next day.
The liberation of the Ukrainian capital
On the morning of November 5, the operation to liberate Kiev entered its final phase. Unable to withstand the onslaught of the Soviet troops, the Germans began to withdraw forces, only in certain areas creating centers of resistance, quickly suppressed by the advancing troops.
The city was completely liberated from the Nazis the next day - November 6, but for some time fighting continued in its suburbs.The end of the whole operation, conceived by the Supreme Command Headquarters, and heroically carried out by joint actions of a large number of military units, was the capture of Zhytomyr, which followed November 13, 1943.
Returning to the events of the past
Analyzing the events of those years, military historians agree that the liberation of Kiev from the German fascist invaders was achieved largely due to the competently and very thoughtfully chosen areas of the main attacks. The city, located on the right - the high bank of the Dnieper, it was impossible to take a frontal attack. In this regard, the validity of the offensive bypassing it, using the left bank bridgeheads, which have become the main crossing points of the Dnieper, is noted.
At the same time, despite all the significance that the liberation of Kiev (1943) had, it is regrettable that there is a significant imbalance between the losses suffered by the Soviet army and its opponents. Even if we are guided by official data, which, as a rule, are underestimated, the Battle of the Dnieper cost the lives of 400 thousand Soviet soldiers and officers, which is several times higher than the number of the destroyed fascists.
Victory to order
Such a large number of the dead is explained not only by the complexity of the operation undertaken, but also by the fact that the assault on the city was not sufficiently prepared and was carried out in a hurry. The Supreme Command headquarters demanded that the liberation of the capital of Ukraine be timed to coincide with the main Soviet holiday, November 7. That year marked the 26th anniversary of the October Revolution, and this victory was supposed to look like a gift from the party for the next calendar date.
In addition, the extreme unpreparedness of crossing the Dnieper led to tragic consequences. As can be seen from the memories of participants in those events, in the area of the Bukrinsky bridgehead, where tens of thousands of people were to be relocated to the opposite side, there were only 16 pontoons at their disposal.
The boats confiscated from local residents also lacked. The fighters were forced to swim across the river, holding on to logs, boards, and even a cloak filled with hay. It is hard to believe, but only 20% of such swimmers reached the right bank.
It remains to add that, despite the massive heroism of soldiers and officers, manifested during the battles described above, the medal for the liberation of Kiev was never instituted.Strange as it may seem, but in its place there exists only a reward for his defense, which ended, as is well known, by surrendering the city and the subsequent long occupation.