|1st Panzer Army|
|Active||1 March 1940 – 8 May 1945|
|Branch||Army (Wehrmacht )|
|Ewald von Kleist|
Panzer Group Kleist was the first operational formation of several Panzer corps in the Wehrmacht. Created for the Battle of France on 1 March 1940; it was named after its commander Ewald von Kleist. Panzer Group Kleist played an important role in the Battle of Belgium. Panzer corps of the Group broke through the Ardennes and reached the sea, forming a huge pocket, containing several Belgian, British, and French armies. When the armistice was signed, Group was deployed in occupied France, being renamed into Panzer Group 1 (Panzergruppe 1) in November. In April 1941, Panzer Group 1 took part in the invasion of Yugoslavia as part of Field Marshal Maximilian von Weichs's Second Army.
In May 1941 Panzer Group 1 was attached to Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group South at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. At the start of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, Panzer Group 1 included the III, XIV and XLVIII Army Corps (mot.) with five panzer divisions and four motorized divisions (two of them SS) equipped with 799 tanks. Panzer Group 1 served on the southern sector of the Eastern Front against the Red Army and was involved the Battle of Brody which involved as many as 3,000 Red Army tanks. The units of the Group closed the encirclement around the Soviet armies near Uman and near Kiev. After the fall of Kiev Panzer Group 1 was enlarged to the 1st Panzer Army (on October 6, 1941) with Kleist still in command. The army captured Rostov, but was forced to retreat eight days later.
In January 1942, Army Group Kleist, which consisted of the First Panzer Army along with the Seventeenth Army, was formed with its namesake, Kleist, in command. Army Group Kleist played a major role in repulsing the Red Army attack in the Second Battle of Kharkov in May 1942. Army Group Kleist was disbanded that month. The First Panzer Army, still under Kleist, which had been attached to Army Group South earlier, became part of Army Group A under Field Marshal Wilhelm List. Army Group A was to lead the thrust into the Caucasus during Operation Blue and capture Grozny and the Baku (current capital of Azerbaijan) oilfields. The First Panzer Army was to spearhead the attack. Rostov, Maykop, Krasnodar and the Kuban region were captured.
In September 1942, the offensive by Army Group A stalled in the Caucasus and List was sacked. After Adolf Hitler briefly took personal control of Army Group A, he appointed Kleist to the command on 22 November 1942. As Kleist took over, Colonel-General Eberhard von Mackensen took the reins of the First Panzer Army. In December 1942, as the German 6th Army was being crushed in the Battle of Stalingrad, the Red Army launched an offensive against Army Group A. The First Panzer Army was ordered to retreat through Rostov in January 1943, before the Soviet forces could cut it off in the Kuban. By February 1943, the army had been withdrawn west of the Don River and Kleist withdrew the remains of his forces from Caucasus into the Kuban, east of the Strait of Kerch.
In January 1943, von Mackensen's First Panzer Army became attached to Army Group Don under Field Marshal Erich von Manstein. The month after that, von Manstein redeployed the First Panzer Army together with the Fourth Panzer Army to counter-attack the Soviet breakthrough from the Battle of Stalingrad. The First Panzer Army contributed to the success of the Third Battle of Kharkov in March 1943. In October 1943 Soviet forces crossed the Dnieper River between Dnipropetrovsk and Kremenchug. The First Panzer Army counter-attacked along with the 8th Army, but failed to dislodge the Soviet forces. At the end of that month, as the Red Army closed in on Kiev, von Mackensen was replaced by Colonel-General Hans-Valentin Hube.
The First Panzer Army remained attached to Army Group South from March 1943 to July 1944. By that time German troops had been pulled out from the Ukraine. In March 1944, crisis hit the First Panzer Army as it was encircled by two Soviet fronts in the Battle of Kamenets-Podolsky pocket. A successful breakthrough was made, saving most of the manpower but losing the heavy equipment. That same month Hitler, who insisted his armies fight an inflexible defense to the last man, dismissed von Manstein. In October 1941, when the First Panzer Army had been formed, it was a large army consisting of four corps, several infantry, panzer, motorized, mountain, and SS divisions, along with a Romanian army and some Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, and Slovak divisions. By the spring of 1944, the First Panzer Army had shrunk considerably, consisting of only three corps, two infantry, four panzer, and one SS division. After July 1944 it retreated from Ukraine and Poland before fighting with Army Group A in Slovakia (Battle of the Dukla Pass).
During its existence, from October 1941 to May 1945, the First Panzer Army spent its entire time on the Eastern Front. In the spring of 1945, the First Panzer Army's main task was to defend the Ostrava region in the north of Moravia, which was at the time the last large industrial area in the hands of Third Reich. There the First Panzer Army was facing the advance of 4th Ukrainian Front from north-east (Ostrava-Opava-Operation, 10 March – 5 May 1945) and had lost most of its heavy and medium tanks. At the same time however the Panzer Army was flanked by the 2nd Ukrainian Front from the south (Bratislava-Brno Operation, 25 March – 5 May 1945). German defensive lines finally collapsed in the early hours of Prague Offensive. The staff of First Panzer Army, along with other commands subordinated to Army Group Center, surrendered to the Soviet forces on 9 May 1945 in the area of Deutsch-Brod, while the remnants of its Panzer-units were scattered and captured all the way from Olomouc to Vysočina Region. Its last commander was general Walter Nehring, who abandoned his staff and fled south to surrender to the American forces.
The 101st Jäger Division was a light infantry Division of the German Army in World War II. It was formed in July 1942 by the redesignation of the 101st Light Infantry Division, which was itself formed in December 1940. It took part in the Battle of Kharkov, the Battle of the Caucasus, and the retreat into the Kuban, where it suffered heavy losses fighting both the Red Army and partisans. The division was then involved in the battles in the Kuban bridgehead before being evacuated. The 101st was subsequently transferred to the lower Dnieper River in late 1943. It was part of the 1st Panzer Army that was surrounded in March 1944; it formed the rear guard for the XLVI Panzer Corps during the breakout of the Kamenets-Podolsky pocket. The division then retreated across Ukraine. In October 1944, it was moved to Slovakia and took part in the Battle of the Dukla Pass.
During the last year of the war, it fought in Hungary and Austria; by the end of the war, it had been reduced to the size of a Kampfgruppe.17th Army (Wehrmacht)
The German Seventeenth Army (German: 17. Armee) was a World War II field army.339th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)
The 339th Rifle Division was first formed in late August, 1941, as a standard Red Army rifle division, at Rostov-on-Don. As it was formed in part from reservists and cadre that included members of the Communist Party from that city, it carried the honorific title "Rostov" for the duration. In late November it was part of the force that counterattacked the German 1st Panzer Army in the Battle of Rostov and forced its retreat from the city, one of the first major setbacks for the invaders. During 1942 the division was forced to retreat into the Caucasus, where it fought to defend the passes leading to the Black Sea ports. In 1943 it fought to liberate the Taman Peninsula, and then in early 1944 to also liberate Crimea. In the following months the division was reassigned to the 1st Belorussian Front, with which it took part in the Battle of Berlin in 1945. Following a distinguished career, the division was disbanded in the summer of that year.384th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
The 384th Infantry Division was formed during the winter of 1941/42, as part of the 18th wave. All infantry divisions of this wave, numbers 383 to 389, were referred to as “Rhine Gold” divisions. The 384th was sent to the 3rd Panzer Corps, 1st Panzer Army, just in time to be involved in defensive fighting during the Soviet offensive in the Second Battle of Kharkov, early in the summer of 1942. Afterwards, the division took part in the offensive operations that led to Stalingrad. After the Soviet counteroffensive, Operation Uranus, most of the combat elements of the division were split between the 44th and the 376th Infantry Divisions, but both were surrounded at Stalingrad and destroyed.
The surviving combat troops, in the form of the 2/536th battalion, were allocated to the 9th Panzer Division to help replace the panzer grenadiers in its schutzen brigade. The non-combat elements were set to northern France and the division was rebuilt. This process was completed in late 1943, and the division, minus its reconnaissance battalion and 3/384th Artillery Battalion, was again sent to Ukraine. After almost a year at the front, in the autumn of 1944, the 384th was surrounded and then destroyed in defensive fighting near the city of Kishinev.Army Group North Ukraine
The Army Group North Ukraine (German: Heeresgruppe Nordukraine) was a major ground force formation of the German armed forces.Battle of Rostov (1941)
The Battle of Rostov (1941) was a battle of the Eastern Front of World War II, fought around Rostov-on-Don between the Army Group South of Nazi Germany and the Southern Front of the Soviet Union.
The battle comprised three phases: the German Sea of Azov Offensive Operation by Army Group South (General Gerd von Rundstedt) (begun on 12 September 1941), the Soviet Rostov Defensive Operation (5 November 1941 – 16 November 1941) by the Southern Front (General Yakov Timofeyevich Cherevichenko), and the Rostov Offensive Operation (27 November 1941 – 2 December 1941) executed by the same Soviet Front.
After forcing their way across the Mius river on 17 November, the German forces captured 10,000 Soviet troops and took Rostov on 21 November. Six days later the Southern Front, reinforced with the newly raised 37th Army, counterattacked from the north and threatened to surround the overstretched German III Motorized Army Corps. Rundstedt then ordered a retreat to the Mius line from Rostov to prevent the encirclement, which prompted Hitler to immediately fire him. Rundstedt's successor Walther von Reichenau confirmed the retreat order with the backing of the Army High Command Chief of Staff Franz Halder and Hitler relented. The Red Army retook Rostov on 28 November. It was the first successful major Soviet counteroffensive of the war.Battle of the Sea of Azov
The Battle of the Sea of Azov, also known as the Chernigovka pocket was an Axis military campaign fought between 26 September 1941 and 11 October 1941 on the northern shores of the Sea of Azov on the Eastern Front of World War II during Operation Barbarossa. It resulted in a complete Axis victory over the Red Army.
After destroying four Soviet armies at Kiev in late September 1941, the German Army Group South advanced east and south to capture the industrial Donbass region and the Crimea. Within days of the battle of Kiev's conclusion, the Soviet Southern Front launched an attack on 26 September with two armies on the northern shores of the Sea of Azov against elements of the German 11th Army, which was simultaneously advancing into the Crimea. After initially pushing back the Romanian 3rd Army, which fought under German command, the Soviet advance ground to a halt when the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Brigade arrived to reinforce their Axis allies. On 1 October the 1st Panzer Army under Ewald von Kleist swept south to isolate the two Soviet armies. The offensive caught the Red Army completely by surprise, forcing them to retreat on 3 October to avoid encirclement.
The Germans now attacked from the west, north and east, cutting the Soviets off on 7 October after capturing Melitopol and Berdiansk. The Soviet 9th and 18th Armies were caught in a vise and annihilated in four days. The Soviet defeat was total; 106,332 men captured, 212 tanks destroyed or captured in the pocket alone as well as 766 artillery pieces of all types. All units of the German 11th Army and the 1st Panzer Army lost 12,421 men combined from 21 September to 10 October; actual German losses in the battle were lower as only parts of both armies fought in the battle.The death of or capture of two-thirds of all Southern Front troops in four days unhinged the Front's left flank, allowing the Germans to capture Kharkiv on 24 October. Kleist's 1st Panzer Army took the Donbass region that same month, while Manstein's 11th Army was freed to conquer Crimea with its full strength from 18 October onward.Donbass Strategic Offensive (July 1943)
The Donbass Strategic Offensive was a military campaign fought in the Donets Basin from 17 July 1943 and 2 August 1943 between the German and Soviet armed forces on the Eastern Front of World War II. The Germans contained the Soviet offensive in its northern portion after initial gains and pushed the southern portion back to its starting point.Eberhard von Mackensen
Friedrich August Eberhard von Mackensen (24 September 1889 – 19 May 1969) was a German general of the Wehrmacht during World War II who served as commander of the 1st Panzer Army and the 14th Army, and was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. Following the war, Mackensen stood trial for war crimes before a British military tribunal in Italy where he was convicted and sentenced to death, however the sentence was later commuted and Mackensen was released in 1952, and died in West Germany in 1969.Gotthard Heinrici
Gotthard Fedor August Heinrici (25 December 1886 – 10 December 1971) was a German general during World War II. Heinrici is considered as the premier defensive expert of the Wehrmacht. He was the commander-in-chief of the Army Group Vistula, formed from the remnants of Army Group Center to defend Berlin from the Soviet armies advancing from the Vistula River.Hans-Valentin Hube
Hans-Valentin Hube (29 October 1890 – 21 April 1944) was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. He commanded several panzer divisions during the invasions of Poland, France and the Soviet Union. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, Nazi Germany's highest military decoration. Hube died in an air crash on 21 April 1944.Kamenets-Podolsky pocket
The Battle of the Kamenets-Podolsky pocket (or Hube Pocket) was part of a greater Soviet Proskurov-Chernovtsy Operation, whose key goal was to envelop the Wehrmacht's 1st Panzer Army of Army Group South. The envelopment occurred in March 1944 on the Eastern Front during the Second World War.
The Red Army successfully created a pocket, trapping some 220,000 German soldiers inside. Under the command of General Hans-Valentin Hube and with the direction of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, the majority of German forces in the pocket were able to fight their way out by mid-April in coordination with the German relief forces led by the 2nd SS Panzer Corps, which was transferred from France with just months before the Allied D-Day landings.
While the majority of the 1st Panzer Army was rescued, it came at the cost of losing almost the entire heavy equipment and a significant territory while many divisions ended up being shattered formations, which required thorough refitting.
This Soviet offensive and the ongoing crisis had absorbed all German strategic reserves that could otherwise be used to repel the future Allied D-Day landings or Soviet Operation Bagration. All told, 9 infantry and 2 panzer divisions, 1 heavy panzer battalion and 2 assault gun brigades with a total strength of 127,496 troops and 311 tanks/assault guns were transferred to the Ukraine between March-April 1944.
Although the Soviets were unable to destroy the 1st Panzer Army, they did achieve major operational goals. With the Soviet 1st Tank Army crossing the Dniester river and reaching Chernovtsy near the Carpathian Mountains, the 1st Panzer Army's links with the 8th Army in the south had been cut off. As a result, Army Group South was effectively split into two- north and south of Carpathians. The northern portion was renamed to Army Group North Ukraine, while the southern portion to Army Group South Ukraine, which was effective from 5 April 1944, although very little of Ukraine remained in German hands. For the Wehrmacht defeat, the commander of Army Group South Erich von Manstein was dismissed by Hitler and replaced by Walther Model.
Furthermore, with the Red Army capturing the Tarnopol-Proskurov railway, the Soviets had cut the main supply lifeline of Army Group South. Now, the southern group of German forces would have to use the long roundabout route through the Balkans, with all of the supplies being rerouted over the Romanian railroads, which were in poor condition.Kurt Zeitzler
Kurt Zeitzler (June 9, 1895 – September 25, 1963) was a Chief of the Army General Staff in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II.
Zeitzler was almost exclusively a staff officer, serving as chief of staff in a corps, army, and army group. In September 1942, he was selected by Adolf Hitler as Chief of the Army General Staff, replacing Franz Halder. Zeitzler too came to argue with Hitler, and retired in July 1944, complaining of illness. Zeitzler was regarded as an energetic and efficient staff officer, noted for his ability in managing the movement of large mobile formations.List of World War II military units of Germany
The List of World War II military units of Germany contains all military units to serve with the armed forces of Germany during World War II.
Major units above corps level are listed here. For smaller units, see List of German corps in World War II and List of German divisions in World War II.Operation Schamil
Operation Schamil was a code-name for a German Abwehr operation to airdrop special forces ahead of the main attacking force against the Soviet town of Grozny which was a major oil production and refining center and, together with Maykop and Baku, was the primary objective for the German 1942 summer offensive by Army Group A led by Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm List. It's named after Imam Shamil.
The plan called for the Lehr-Regiment Brandenburg zBV 800 (a special operations unit) to be dropped in advance of the 1st Panzer Army to establish contacts with the local insurgents, capture oil refineries by surprise, and protect them from destruction by the retreating Soviet Red Army. In August–September 1942, five groups (57 men in total) were parachuted into the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. They succeeded in capturing the oil refinery in Grozny, but had to retreat when the main German army was stopped about 55 miles (89 km) from Grozny. One of the groups succeeded in establishing contacts with rebel leader Hasan Israilov. Additional three groups (20 men) followed in August 1943; their task was to hinder Soviet counter-offensive.In terms of ethnic background, the 77 men were 15 Germans, 21 Ossetians, 16 Ingush, 13 Chechens, five Dagestanis, three Kabardians, two Georgians, a Russian and a Kazakh. These men were trained by the Operation Zeppelin which, over the course of the war, airdropped some 50 diversionary groups in North Caucasus and Transcaucasia.Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist
Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist (8 August 1881 – 13 November 1954) was a German field marshal during World War II. Kleist successfully led the 1st Panzer Group during the Battle of France, the Battle of Belgium, the Balkans Campaign and the initial stages of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. He was the commander of Army Group A during the latter part of Case Blue, the 1942 summer offensive in southern Russia. Following the war, Kleist was extradited to the Soviet Union where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for war crimes; he died in prison.Second Battle of Kharkov
The Second Battle of Kharkov or Operation Fredericus was an Axis counter-offensive in the region around Kharkov (now Kharkiv) against the Red Army Izium bridgehead offensive conducted 12–28 May 1942, on the Eastern Front during World War II. Its objective was to eliminate the Izium bridgehead over Seversky Donets or the "Barvenkovo bulge" (Russian: Барвенковский выступ) which was one of the Soviet offensive's staging areas. After a winter counter-offensive that drove German troops away from Moscow but depleted the Red Army's reserves, the Kharkov offensive was a new Soviet attempt to expand upon their strategic initiative, although it failed to secure a significant element of surprise.
On 12 May 1942, Soviet forces under the command of Marshal Semyon Timoshenko launched an offensive against the German 6th Army from a salient established during the winter counter-offensive. After a promising start, the offensive was stopped on 15 May by a massive German campaign of airstrikes. Critical Soviet errors by several staff officers and by Joseph Stalin, who failed to accurately estimate the 6th Army's potential and overestimated their own newly raised forces, facilitated a German pincer attack on 17 May which cut off three Soviet field armies from the rest of the front by 22 May. Hemmed into a narrow area, the 250,000-strong Soviet force inside the pocket was exterminated from all sides by German armored, artillery and machine gun firepower as well as 7,700 tonnes of air-dropped bombs. After six days of encirclement, organized Soviet resistance came to an end as the Soviet formations were either killed or taken prisoner.
The battle was an overwhelming German victory, with 280,000 Soviet casualties compared to just 20,000 for the Germans and their allies. The German Army Group South pressed its advantage, encircling the Soviet 28th Army on 13 June in Operation Wilhelm and pushing back the 38th and 9th Armies on 22 June in Operation Fridericus II as preliminary operations to Case Blue, which was launched on 28 June as the main German offensive on the Eastern Front in 1942.XXIX Army Corps (Wehrmacht)
The XXIX Army Corps (German: XXIX. Armeekorps) was an infantry corps of the German Army during World War II, active from 1940 to 1945.Zhitomir–Berdichev Offensive
The Zhytomyr–Berdychiv Offensive operation (Ukrainian: Житомирсько-Бердичівська наступальна операція) was a part of the strategic offensive of the Red Army in the right-bank (western) Ukrainian SSR, the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive. The offensive operation was conducted by the forces of the 1st Ukrainian Front commanded by General of Army Nikolai Vatutin during World War II, from 24 December through to 14 January 1944.
The task was to defeat the opposing German 4th Panzer Army of Army Group South and advance to the Southern Bug river while preventing new attempts by the enemy to recapture Kiev. After an opening attack across a 300 kilometer front, Soviet troops advanced from 80 to 200 km and nearly liberated all of the Kiev and Zhytomyr Oblast regions, along with the regions of the Vinnytsa and Rivne Oblasts. The 1st Ukrainian Front gained a position north of the main German forces of Army Group South. The German forces retained the western shore of the Dnieper in the Kaniv region.
Manstein brought the 1st Panzer Army up to join the 4th Panzer Army in launching a series of counterattacks against the flanks of the extended Soviet forces. These counterattacks, conducted over the following three weeks, succeeded in creating a series of loosely held pockets, and the Germans began to stabilize their front. The German counterattacks inflicted considerable losses in men and material upon the Red Army, and a cohesive defensive position eventually was restored. However the Soviet's held a great number of forces in reserve, and the success von Manstein achieved could not last.
In addition to the Soviet formations and units, the 1st Czechoslovak Brigade also participated in the operation.
As a result of the Kiev Strategic Offensive operation late in 1943, troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front under Vatutin took a large bridgehead on the right bank of the Dnieper in the Kiev region that “overhung” the enemy group of the troops in the south-western Ukraine. In an attempt to reduce the bridgehead and to retake Kiev, German forces counter-attacked in the region south of Zhytomyr. The attempt to retake Kiev failed during the Kiev Strategic Defensive.