Battle of Kharkov-Most Brilliant Battle of WW2?(Germans outnumbered 1/5 and won)

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,638
USA
One of the battles of WW2 that amazed me was the Third Battle of Kharkov and the brilliant strategy and tactics of Eric von. Mainstein. He and only round 70,000 men plus SS Divisions would utterly maul a Soviet Army of around 500,000(approximately in the area of operations) led by Vaututin, Rovososky, and Golikov. Over 80,000 Soviet soldiers were killed or wounded while the Germans barely lost 10,000, forcing the Russians to delay the war for 6 months before making a comeback at Kursk.

Such massive numbers outweigh even battles like Cannae, Gaugemela, Alesia, Austerlitz and most WWII battles. One of the most outnumbered battles in history including Genghis Khan's Badger Mouth.

How was Mainstein so capable of this operation and the Russians so incapable of stopping him?

IMO if Hitler didn't interfere with the Kursk offensive and gave Mainstein the complete command like at Kharkov, Mainstein could have held out against the Soviets if not completely beating them again.
 
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starman

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Jan 2014
4,105
Connecticut
How was Mainstein so capable of this operation and the Russians so incapable of stopping him?
He waited until their forces were "ripe for dismemberment" too spread out to be a cohesive force IIRC.

IMO if Hitler didn't interfere with the Kursk offensive and gave Mainstein the complete command like at Kharkov, Mainstein could have held out against the Soviets if not completely beating them again.
He wanted to be Supreme Commander of the Eastern front but when he proposed that Hitler appoint such a commander he dropped the subject when Hitler suggested Goering.
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,812
One of the battles of WW2 that amazed me was the Third Battle of Kharkov and the brilliant strategy and tactics of Eric von. Mainstein. He and only round 70,000 men plus SS Divisions would utterly maul a Soviet Army of around 500,000(approximately in the area of operations) led by Vaututin, Rovososky, and Golikov. Over 80,000 Soviet soldiers were killed or wounded while the Germans barely lost 10,000, forcing the Russians to delay the war for 6 months before making a comeback at Kursk.

Such massive numbers outweigh even battles like Cannae, Gaugemela, Alesia, Austerlitz and most WWII battles. One of the most outnumbered battles in history including Genghis Khan's Badger Mouth.

How was Mainstein so capable of this operation and the Russians so incapable of stopping him?

IMO if Hitler didn't interfere with the Kursk offensive and gave Mainstein the complete command like at Kharkov, Mainstein could have held out against the Soviets if not completely beating them again.
Of course these numbers are 100% factual ?

You can also read Paul Carrell... In his books the ratio is never lower than 10 - 1 in the soviets advantage....

BTW why was the genius Manstein unable to save Stalingrad ?

as for Kursk, the job was not to "hold out" but to attack..... and the germans never even came close to victory

P.S: comparing ww2 battles to antique battles does not make much sense.. completely different weapon systems, much larger areas of operations and of course much larger numbers... also antique battles usually lasted no more than a few hours
 
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Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,638
USA
Of course these numbers are 100% factual ?
Yes just by looking at the amount of Soviet Army Groups(fronts) and the size of the army group, we can have a accurate number of Soviet troops in the Kharkov region ready for battle.

BTW why was the genius Manstein unable to save Stalingrad ?
Because Mainstein planned Paulus should breakout and meet his army, but those plans were vetoed by Hitler.
 
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Apr 2010
16,748
Slovakia
Mainstein was probably the best of German WWII generals. However just like rest of his colleagues, he lacked badly in strategy. His insistence to continue attacking at Kursk at the time when German operation failed was very short sightened for example.

At the end of the day, the best German strategist of the War was Hitler. And Hitler was rather average strategist.
 

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,638
USA
Mainstein was probably the best of German WWII generals. However just like rest of his colleagues, he lacked badly in strategy. His insistence to continue attacking at Kursk at the time when German operation failed was very short sightened for example..
Your joking right? Mainstein was a brilliant strategist. He insisted on strategic retreats before counterattacking.

At the end of the day, the best German strategist of the War was Hitler.
:zany:

Hitler focused too much on attacking multiple objectives and the unwillingness to make breakouts and strategic retreats. Mainstein could have relieved Stalingrad if Hitler followed his coordination with Paulus to break out of the city.

IMO Mainstein was one of the best in WWII along with Nimitz and Spurance along with Hugh Dowding. Most "great" WWII commanders were reckless risk takers or just overwhelmed the enemy with superior numbers.
 
Apr 2010
16,748
Slovakia
Your joking right? Mainstein was a brilliant strategist. He insisted on strategic retreats before counterattacking.
What do you consider strategic retreat?

Hitler focused too much on attacking multiple objectives and the unwillingness to make breakouts and strategic retreats. Mainstein could have relieved Stalingrad if Hitler followed his coordination with Paulus to break out of the city.
Hitler was perfectly correct in his strategic goal which was to put USSR out of action as fast as possible. Something German generals were too blind to see. They newer saw the larger picture, only their section of the front. Manstein including. Relieving Stalingrad would have changed nothing on German defeat. 1942 Summer offensive was the last chance to at last cripple USSR significantly. By that time defeating USSR entirely was more or less out of question. Retreat from Stalingrad would have being failure of entire war and it indeed was.

IMO Mainstein was one of the best in WWII along with Nimitz and Spurance along with Hugh Dowding. Most "great" WWII commanders were reckless risk takers or just overwhelmed the enemy with superior numbers.
He was excellent as long as he was commanding corps or army.
 

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,638
USA
What do you consider strategic retreat?
Strategically retreating....so you can punch back.
Hitler was perfectly correct in his strategic goal which was to put USSR out of action as fast as possible. Something German generals were too blind to see. They newer saw the larger picture, only their section of the front. Manstein including. Relieving Stalingrad would have changed nothing on German defeat. 1942 Summer offensive was the last chance to at last cripple USSR significantly. By that time defeating USSR entirely was more or less out of question. Retreat from Stalingrad would have being failure of entire war and it indeed was.
A ridiculous statement. Hitler focused on too many objectives which would have blunted his blitzkrieg. It was anything but "fast as possible". Retreat from Stalingrad would have been a failure? Uh no. They were going to enciricled and whiped out. If they broke out Mainstein would even have more men for the Kharkov offensive.

Keep in mind Hitler delayed the Kursk offensive.

He was excellent as long as he was commanding corps or army.
This obviously not true looking at the Battle of France. He didn't the units be devised the strategy for them.

Mainstein was commanding TWO Field armies at Kharkov.
 
Apr 2010
16,748
Slovakia
Strategically retreating....so you can punch back.
I know no strategic German retreat of entire war on the Eastern front, so I don't understand what are you talking about. All "strategic" retreats Germans performed were those when Soviets broke whole sections of the front and Germans were fleeing in chaos. But that's something you can credit Soviet generals with, not German.

A ridiculous statement. Hitler focused on too many objectives which would have blunted his blitzkrieg. It was anything but "fast as possible".
He was focusing on as many objectives as was necessary and understood strategy better then his generals. Example was when he diverted army group centre to the Kiev against opposition of his generals.

Germans did "shorten" their lines few times, but that can hardly be described as a strategic retreat since goal of those was to close holes in their defence.

Retreat from Stalingrad would have been a failure? Uh no.
Complete failure. Unless you consider retreat a victory.

They were going to enciricled and whiped out. If they broke out Mainstein would even have more men for the Kharkov offensive.
Which would have accomplished exactly nothing. After Stalingrad it was game over for Germans.

Keep in mind Hitler delayed the Kursk offensive.
Kursk was local offensive designed to delay inevitable defeat. It would not have changed anything even if it would have being successful.

This obviously not true looking at the Battle of France. He didn't the units be devised the strategy for them.

Mainstein was commanding TWO Field armies at Kharkov.
OK, as long as he was commanding corps, army or two.