19 December 2012

1. Panzerarmee Advances on the Caucasus Mountains

Image size: 1600 x 883 pixel. 425 KB
Date: Sunday, 9 August 1942
Place: Kuban, Azerbaijan, Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown

Panzerkampfwagen III of Heeresgruppe Süd (Army Group South) advances through the Kuban Steppe on the Caucasus Mountains during Operation Blue (Unternehmen Blau/Fall Blau). The Panzer III is from the 6. Kompanie, 3. Zug and is tank number 3, going by its turret number '633'; there're a couple of symbols on the right rear mudgard- the one on the right might be that of the 1. Panzer-Division. Original caption from Signal magazine: "tank 633 spots a Russian anti-tank emplacement and at once opens fire". Intending to secure the oil fields in Baku in the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, Reichchancellor Adolf Hitler ordered Heeresgruppe Süd to complete the operation quickly and was frequently frustrated with their progress. Only ten percent of the Red Army was in the south; the limited number of prisoners convinced Hitler that the Soviets were running out of manpower. 1. Panzerarmee under Generalfeldmarschall Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist (August 8, 1881 - November 13, 1954) attacked Rostov, which fell on July 28, 1942. Learning from their mistakes, the Red Army withdrew without losing large formations in encirclements. On August 9, 1. Panzerarmee reached the foothills of the Caucausian mountains, having advanced more than 300 miles. The 6. Armee was stalled in taking the city of Stalingrad, rendering these gains negligible for the Germans. On August 21 a Nazi flag was installed on Mount Elbrus, the highest point of Caucasus. Hitler comments that his Army's ambition should be to defeat the Russians rather than conquer mountains. By September the Sixth Army is engaged in protracted urban street fighting in Stalingrad. 

Signal Magazine, November 1942

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