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In the first months of 1943, the SS Panzer-Grenadier Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was involved in all phases of the complex Kharkov campaign. During the initial defensive fighting, the division held its sector for two weeks against the full weight of the Soviet 3rd Tank Army; a remarkable feat in itself. After the city fell, the Leibstandarte withdrew to a new defensive position and protected the important supply rail centre at Krasnograd while the Das Reich and Totenkopf divisions executed the first phase of the counterattack. When the 3rd Tank Army began its move south to block the advance of these two SS divisions, Leibstandarte carried out raids and interdictory strikes that disrupted the Soviet realignment and weakened the army's fighting power. Having rejoined the SS Panzerkorps, after taking part in the destruction of the Kegitschevka pocket, the Leibstandarte led the way back to the city of Kharkov. Dynamic young officers such as Kurt Meyer, Max Wunsche and Jochen Peiper personally led attack columns that struck deep into the city, eventually forcing the Russian troops to abandon Kharkov. From these photographs, it is clear why, after enduring the losses necessary to retake the city, these renamed the enormous Red Square as Platz der Leibstandarte. High quality reproductions of original wartime photos, and compelling captions by author George Nipe illustrate in incredible detail the men, equipment, weapons, and vehicles used in this decisive Eastern Front battle.
|Publication date:||15th April 2002|
|Author:||George M. Nipe, Remy Spezzano|
|Categories:||Photographic reportage, European history, Second World War,|