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The Korsun Pocket: The Encirclement and Breakout of a German Army in the East, 1944 [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Niklas Zetterling , Anders Frankson

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1. April 2011
* Astonishing tale of the breakout from Korsun * Celebrated tactician von Manstein's strategic success 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.


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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. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .


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Amazon.com: 3.7 von 5 Sternen  15 Rezensionen
38 von 40 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Detaild Tactical Review 26. September 2008
Von Peter D. Couch - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This book deals with the Eastern Front battle of the Korsun Pocket, known to the Germans as the Cherkassy Pocket. The book is a tactical level history of the battle that occured in late 1943, early 1944. The Korsun battle was the second major encirclement (Stalingrad being the first) of German troops by the Red Army. In this case the encirclement was ultimately unsuccessful due to strenuous efforts by the Germans to relieve the encircled troops, though it was a close run affair and the Germans in the pocket lost almost all their heavy equipment during the breakout. The battle is interesting as it is one of the last times on the Eastern front that the Germans were able to muster sufficient forces to launch a major attack on terms that gave them a reasonable chance of success.

The book is generally well written and is based on a great deal of research in both German and Soviet sources. The authors admit that German sources tend to predominate as they are more easily verifiable than Soviet sources. The latter tend to be tainted by the needs of the political climate of the time. There are plenty of maps to assist the reader but few illustrations. The appendices contain a lot of additional data useful to the more serious student of the Eastern front. My major complaint is that key places mentioned in the text often do not appear on the maps and some of the maps lack any indication of scale.
26 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Good presentation of the Cherkassey Pocket & Breakout, Could use more 1st Person Narrative 9. Oktober 2008
Von David M. Dougherty - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This is a good book, well written, and gives the reader a somewhat sanitized description of German pocket battles, the problems of relief, wandering the pocket to the West, and breakthrough to the relieving forces. The authors stopped their narrative following the breakthrough, but the troops experienced more tribulations and escapes afterwards from the Red Army before they were relatively safe. The research is excellent and the presentation of casualties and statistics from the German side is well done. The Soviet side is subject to some speculation, but Glantz and House reported 80,188 killed and wounded, and the tank losses are generally given as about 700.

The pocket was formed due to Hitler's intransigence towards retreating and his fantasy of maintaining the salient on the Dnieper River as a jumping-off place for an offensive. To the Soviets, the salient was ripe for being nipped off and the two corps of German troops contained therein to be annihilated. This was in January and February of 1944, rather late in the war, and German strength on the Eastern Front was stretched to the breaking point, but their superior tactics and unit cohesion could still punish incautious Soviet movements when allowed.

The Korsun or Cherkassey pocket was one such battle, where Field-Marshal Manstein committed himself to saving the encircled troops and generally fulfilled his promise. In doing so, however, he used up his armoured reserves, and after his sacking by Hitler after the Soviets pushed through to the Hungarian border, Army Groups Center and North could no longer win battles above the battalion level.

Both the Soviet and German troops fought bitterly. The Germans were fighting for their lives, and being wounded was nearly a death sentence. The Soviets massacred the German wounded they captured (along with the medical personnel), and only walking wounded able to cross the swollen and freezing Gnily Tikich (river) or those flown out earlier were saved.

The Germans that did escape generally did so without weapons, and in many cases without clothes having swum the river to safety. That the hardships were unbelievable goes without saying. On the Soviet side the elements breaking through to form the pocket were decimated by German attacks, and their situations were often as difficult as the Germans'.

At any rate, this work goes far to illustrate to the reader the conditions of battle on the Eastern Front from the Battle of Kursk to the assault on Berlin. Other pockets were wiped out by the Soviets, and the spectacle of troops returning through Soviet lines became commonplace on the Eastern Front.

I recommend this book, but would also recommend two other works to readers interested in this battle:
"Hell's Gate" by Donald Nash provides more photos, maps and 1st person accounts; and
"Campaign in Russia" by Leon Degrelle, a Belgian SS volunteer who commanded the Walloon brigade inside the Cherkassey pocket for more descriptive accounts of the fighting.
16 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Good account of the battle. 12. November 2008
Von JAG 2.0 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I feel that this is a very good work on the Korsun (also known as the Cherkassy) Pocket. Makes good use of archival sources to help understand the motivations and actions of commanders on both sides (author makes a correct observation that Soviet accounts must be viewed through a lens of propaganda). The first-person accounts are useful.

The author makes the reader aware of the the effects of weather and terrain on the course of the battle. The Russian mud bogs down movement to such an extent that reserves and reinforcements arrive late and understrength on both sides due to the effects of the strain it causes to man, animal, and machine.

The reason I gave it four instead of five stars was the clarity of the maps. I would read that a unit was moving from place "A" northward to place "B" when it was engaged in action with an enemy unit. I would then look on the map in that chapter and couldn't find place "A" or place "B"!

On the whole, I found this work to be a very good treatment on the subject.
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Good Account of the Korsun Encirclement 27. Dezember 2008
Von Matt Fuller - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I had read several accounts of the battle of the Cherkassy pocket, but these had been views from a worm's eye perspective. The virtue of Zetterling and Frankson's book is that it provides an almost complete history of the battle; how it began, the units involved, how the battle unfolded, details on the encirclement and the German attempts to break it, the eventual breakout and the aftermath. Much space is given to enumerating casualties and numbers of vehicles involved, damaged and destroyed. Several personalities are followed through the various phases of the battle and beyond, providing a view of the human, personal element that greatly increased the value of the book for me.

This is a well-done book from the standpoint of the research done and the obvious hard work to get the facts straight, but it suffers from a lack of quality editing. Korsun was a complicated operation from both sides, with many units involved and it is sometimes hard to keep them straight. The many maps helped a great deal, but they could have been much better. While the maps were placed in close proximity to the text that they were there to support, many times places described in the text were not shown on their accompanying map. I found myself flipping to maps on previous pages to locate these places, not always successfully. Although it figures prominently in the text in several places, Novo Buda, for example, does not appear on any of the maps. Nor does Pochapintsy, a location that figured in the actual breakout. The book could use a detailed map that specifically supported the breakout actions.

Much time was spent describing the difficult conditions of the terrain, including mud, but natural obstacles as well. Better maps showing terrain features more clearly would have helped illustrate the difficulties that the combatants faced. Maps are a difficult thing to get right and I haven't seen them done well in many modern military history books. This was a good attempt but could have been better.

In many places the prose is stilted and does not flow well. Word usage is at times redundant and ponderous. This does not necessarily hurt the telling of the story, but makes it somewhat tedious to plow through. There were a number of typographical errors and misspellings as well. Given the state of publishing technology, these are really inexcusable. I liked the photos, none of which I had seen before, but there weren't enough of them and they really didn't help with the story.

Overall this is a good book on the history of the encirclement at Korsun and I learned a lot about the battle. Hopefully, future editions will deliver a more polished presentation of this dramatic battle.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Good tactical coverage for most of the campaign 22. Mai 2009
Von Dave Schranck - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I thought this was a good factual rendition of the offensive but it lacked the human interest aspect that you see in books by Beevor, Kershaw, Carell, Ambrose.
The authors begin by explaining the lead up to the Russians, the 1st UF and 2nd UF, encircling the 9th and 42nd Corps. It begins in late 1943 with the German defense of the Dniepr River against Vatutin and Konev's forces. The Russians were able to cross the river near Kiev and further south. The advance occurred in such a way that a German salient was created. Manstein and Hube requested permission to fall back and remove the exposure of the salient. Hitler, having dreams of grandeur and future conquest, refused the request. This gave the far superior Russian force the perfect chance to sever the salient's neckline and encircle and destroy the Germans. At this stage of the war, it was utterly stupid and unrealistic of Hitler to maintain the salient. The attack on the salient began in the last week of January and the campaign to close and liquidate the pocket will last for about three more weeks in February.
After the introduction, most of the rest of the book presents a daily chronicle of the engagements within the pocket as well as the relief attempts of 3rd PzC and to a smaller extent the 47th PzC in freeing the trapped men. The operational coverage was good and shows that the book was well researched; more German than Russian sources were probably used to write this book.

Nearing the end, the authors present a quick rendition of the escape which was pretty good but it could have been more comprehensive and therefore more informing. In the chapter, "Breakout", a brief description of the German involvement by unit is presented on that late February 16th night. The spearhead of the escape was the 105th IR of 72nd ID when they stealthily neutralized the two Russian defense lines before meeting up with 3rd PzC just a few miles away. The SS 5th PzD, 57th ID, 88th IDs among others followed. The experiences of a few individuals were also covered.
After the breakout, Konev's forces chased and hunted down and killed as many escapees as possible and this is not succinctly covered in the book.
In "Aftermath" the authors do a good job of summing up the losses for each side.

The reason the book didn't receive 5 stars is due to the maps. The maps at the beginning of the book are non descriptive and incomplete. The authors will describe engagements near a village and its not on the map. This happened many times and its frustrating if you're trying to following the individual events closely. A certain Tank Brigade advances, heading toward an area or town and that movement is not shown on the map. The maps, showing the Russian progression, were too general, showing only area of influence. For me, they weren't specific enough. The maps did improve somewhat later in the book but there is still room for improvement.
The authors did add an interesting Appendix. The first appendix is "Order of Battle" which lists the units involved in the battle. The second one is entitled "German Combat Units in the Battle. It gives a brief background and orientation of each German unit involved and is a nice addition.

This is an ideal starter book; on a casual level, it reads well unless you really try to follow the action on the maps. If you're still looking for more info on the offensive after reading this book, two books come to mind. Glantz's "The Battle for the Ukraine". It has maps that might be more helpful. If you want to learn more about the key commanders or after the breakout, Douglas Nash's "Hell's Gate" is the book for you. It also has a lot of great photos as well. For a short version of this battle, you can read Alex Buchner's "Ostfront 1944". This entrapment and 5 other battles of 1944, as the Red Army pushes the Germans out of Russia, can be read as well.
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