Image size: 1600 x 1334 pixel. 940 KB
Date: Saturday, 1 August 1942
Place: Bolkhov, Orlovskaya Oblast, Soviet Union
German soldiers from 25.Infanterie-Division/LIII.Armeekorps/2.Panzerarmee/Heeresgruppe Mitte marching to the front in the peak of "Fall Blau" (Case Blau), August 1942. In the background we can see the building of Savior Transfiguration Cathedral (Spaso-Preobragenskij Cathedral), built in 1841-51 to a design by one of Konstantin Thon's disciples. "Fall Blau" (later renamed Operation Braunschweig) was the German Armed Forces' (Wehrmacht) name for its plan for the 1942 strategic summer offensive in southern Russia between 28 June and 24 November 1942. The operation was a continuation of the previous year's Operation Barbarossa intended to finally knock the Soviet Union out of the war, and involved a two-pronged attack against the rich oilfields of Baku as well as an advance in the direction of Stalingrad along the Volga River, to cover the flanks of the advance towards Baku. For this part of the operation, Army Group South (Heeresgruppe Süd) of the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) was divided into Army Groups A and B (Heeresgruppe A and B). Army Group A was tasked with crossing the Caucasus mountains to reach the Baku oil fields, while Army Group B protected its flanks along the Volga. Initially, the German offensive saw spectacular gains with a rapid advance into the Caucasus capturing vast areas of land and several oil fields. However, the Red Army decisively defeated the Germans at Stalingrad, following Operations Uranus and Little Saturn. This defeat forced the Axis to retreat from the Caucasus in fear of becoming trapped. Only the city of Kursk and the Kuban region remained tentatively occupied by Axis troops.