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By David Glantz

In may well 1942 the robust German Wehrmacht and the large Soviet purple military have been engaged in a sour fight. The firstly speedy improve of the Wehrmacht deep into the Soviet Union opposed to the crimson military have been halted by means of the spring of 1941. purple military counteroffensives had stopped the German strengthen at Moscow via the spring of 1942 and the Soviet management used to be confident the Wehrmacht was once fatally stretched. A counterthrust through the pink military on the southern finish of front line, close to the city of Kharkov, could, they imagined, be an essential step in pushing the German military again. the truth used to be very varied. Soviet overconfidence intended that thousands in their infantrymen misplaced their lives in a single of the main catastrophic offensives in Russian army background. For over part a century the Soviets stored the dimensions in their defeat mystery. basically within the final decade have been the records made commonly on hand.

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All these forces were organisationally part of Kleist's Army Group (First Panzer and Seventeenth Armies). The group consisted of around 350 tanks and 1,600 guns. Units of Romanian 5th Cavalry Division, serving as security, were deployed on the northern coast of the Sea of Azov. 73rd and 125th Infantry Divisions, 13th and 16th Panzer Divisions, and the Adolf Hitler' and 'Viking' SS Motorised Divisions, which were part of XIV Motorised Corps, defended the right bank of the Mius River, from the Taganrog Estuary to Kuibyshevo.

Finally, on 30 April Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, commander of Army Group South, issued his final directive for 'Friderikus IF, with a probable start date of 18 May. On 12 May, when Soviet forces struck north and south of Kharkov, German armoured forces under the control of Sixth Army and Army Group von Kleist had already completed their concentration in the Kharkov region and south of the Barvenkovo bridgehead. Although Soviet intelligence had detected some German troop activity north of Kharkov, it failed to notice the German concentration in the south, with catastrophic consequences.

Although] the Russians were stirring ominously in the northwest corner of the Izyum [sic] bulge and in the Volchansk sector . . ' 45 Despite these fragmentary intelligence indicators, to most German participants in the 36 2 Planning Kharkov operation the attack came as a distinct surprise; in particular in its timing and ferocity. Soviet achievement of operational surprise would, however, become irrelevant as a well-thought-out Soviet operational concept would fall victim to more sophisticated German strategic and operational planning.

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