During the second half of 1943, after the failure at Kursk, Germany's Army Group South fell back from Russia under repeated hammerblows from the Red Army. Under Erich von Manstein, however, the Germans were able to avoid serious defeats, while at the same time fending off Hitler's insane orders to hold on to useless territory.
Then, in January 1944, a disaster happened. Six divisions of Army Group South became surrounded after sudden attacks by the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts under command of generals Nikolai Vatutin and Ivan Konev around the village of Korsun (near the larger town of Cherkassy on the Dnieper). The Germans'greatest fear was the prospect of another Stalingrad, the catastrophe that had occurred precisely one year before. This time, though, von Manstein was in control from the start, and he immediately rearranged his Army Group to rescue his trapped divisions. A major panzer drive got underway, led by General der Panzertruppen Hans Hube, a survivor from Stalingrad pocket, which promptly ran up against several soviet tank armies. Leading the break-in was Franz Baeke with his Tiger and Panther-tanks. Due to both weather and ferocious resistance, the German drive stalled. Ju-52s still flew into Korsun's airfield, delivering supplies and taking out the wounded, but it soon became apparent that only one option remained for the beleaguered defenders: breakout.
Without consulting Hitler, on the night of February 16 von Manstein ordered the breakout to begin. When dawn broke, the Soviets realized their prey was escaping. Although the Germans within the pocket lost nearly all of their heavy weapons and left many wounded behind, their escape was effected. Stalin, having anticipated another Stalingrad, was left with little but an empty bag, as Army Group South, this time, had pulled off a rescue.
In The Korsun Pocket, Niklas Zetterling, a researcher at the Swedish Defense College since 1995 and Anders Frankson, have provided a highly detailed and often breathtaking account of one of the most dramatic battles of World War II.
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 617 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 25 mm
Certainly its a highly readable account and brings out the drama of the two trapped German corps and the desperate attempts to free them. The grim nature of combat on the Eastern Front at its height is well handled...surely an inspiring book for the Eastern Front gamer looking for a big battle. * Wargames Soldiers and Strategy *
Zetterling and Frankson are able to not only amply educate a reader interested in all of the battle's elements listed above, but also do so in a highly detailed and interesting manner. * www.theglobeatwar.com *
This is a meticulously researched and very readable account drawing from many sources. ... the big strength is that is has been sprinkled with many maps so that you can follow the incredibly fluid action as it unfolded day by day. Highly recommended. * Military Model Aircraft International *