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"Leopold Wenger's letters from Ukraine-Bessarabia, ...." Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2017 11:59 a.m. PST

…March-June 1944.

"The following is a neutral account assembled by Willy Wenger describing the situation at the southern portion of the Eastern Front where his brother Oblt. Leopold Wenger was active. The events described here preceded the March to June 1944 letters Willy and his parents received from Poldi, and help to explain them.

The Battle of the Dnieper

From Smolensk to Kherson, that is, from the source to the mouth of the Dneiper, both sides of the river were the scene of a bitter struggle. Stalin had announced the beginning of the Liberation Offensive on 7 October 1943. This was preceded by a reorganization of the Russian armies. The Russian army groups, not including reserves, which were available in abundance, now consisted of 69 armies with 330 divisions, compared to 197 German divisions and a few units of troops allied with Germany. The Germans now had three million soldiers committed to defending the West from the threat of Soviet invasion, in the face of clear Soviet superiority in numbers.

In the South, the Russians claimed their first military victory on 14 October, compelling the 1st German Tank Division to abandon the bridgehead of Zaporizhia. The next day, Soviet infantry divisions and tank brigades went on the offensive between the city of Krementschug and the big bend in the Dneiper River, reaching the major iron-producing center of Kriworog and threatening to encircle the 1st German Tank Division. The Russians now shifted the main thrust of the offensive against the stretch of coastline along the Assowschen Sea. Melitopol fell on 22 October 1943 and reaching the strait of Perekop on 1 November. The 17th German Army entrenched itself in Crimea, while the 6th Army withdrew across the Dneiper and now held only a small bridgehead east of Kherson…"
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