Mariupol’s 1943 Liberation by the Red Army

NEW – April 22, 2022

During the Donbass offensive operation, the Red Army, having defeated the German grouping near Taganrog, rapidly drove the enemy to the west. At the same time, on the right bank of the Kalmius River, which flows into the Azov Sea near Mariupol, the fascists began to thoroughly dig a new line of defence, which they intended to hold on to at all costs. The Soviet troops who approached this line had to engage in fierce battles with a strong enemy with significant reserves. However, despite this, the Soviet soldiers broke through the German defences, and then from several directions, including from the sea, broke into Mariupol and within a few hours liberated it from the Nazi occupiers.

On September 10, 1943, at 20:00 in Moscow, 12 artillery volleys were fired from 124 guns in honour of the liberators of Mariupol, Volnovakha, Chaplin and Barvenkov. The 221st Rifle and 9th Guards fighter-aviation divisions were awarded the honorary titles of “Mariupol”. The 130th Guards Taganrog Rifle Division was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.


OVERVIEW OF SEPTEMBER 10, 1943

During September 10, our troops conducted a successful offensive in the Pavlograd direction and, having advanced from 20 to 40 kilometres, captured the city of BARVENKOVO, the city and the railway junction of CHAPLINO, the district centre of the Kharkov region PETROVSKAYA, the district centres of the Dnepropetrovsk region PETROPAVLOVSK and MEZHEVAYA, and also held over 140 other settlements, including large settlements points VERKHNY BISHKIN, SHEBELINKA, CHEPEL, PROTOPOPOVKA, VELIKAYA KAMYSHEVAKHA, ZAPAROMARIEVKA, ANDREYEVKA, STEPANOVKA, SLAVYANKA, VOZNESENKA, PREOBRAZHENKA, TROITSKOYE, NIKOLAEVKA, FEDOROVKA, PODGORODNEYE, NOVO-PAVLOVKA and the railway stations BRAHINOVKA, FURSOVO, KIRPICHEVO, DEMURINO, PROSYANAYA.

In the area to the west and southwest of STALINO (Donbass), our troops, continuing to successfully develop the offensive, advanced from 10 to 20 kilometres and held the city and railway junction of VOLNOVAKHA, the city of KRASNOGOROVKA, the district centre of MARYINKA, the large settlements of ALEKSANDROVKA, ALEKSANDRINKA, NOVOTROITSKOE, NIKOLAEVKA, BUGAS, PLATONOVKA, DMITRIEVKA and railway stations ELENOVSKY QUARRY, STARO-MIKHAYLOVKA.

Our troops advancing along the coast of the AZOV Sea broke the stubborn resistance of the enemy and captured the city and port of MARIUPOL. North of BRYANSK, our troops, overcoming enemy resistance, advanced from 5 to 10 kilometres and held more than 80 settlements, including NEMERICHI, GULICHI, MANINO, USOKHI, SAVINO, VERBEZHICHI, SUKREML, KUYAVA, SUR, ULEML. South of BRYANSK, our troops crossed the Desna River, held the settlements of KAMEN, KRYMSKY BUGOR, ROZOVKA on the western bank of the Desna and fought for the city of NOVGOROD-SEVERSKY.

In the PRILUK direction, our troops continued their offensive and, having advanced from 10 to 15 kilometres, held more than 80 settlements, including the regional centre of the Sumy region, LIPOVAYA DOLINA. In the area southwest of Kharkov, our troops conducted offensive battles, during which they improved their positions.

OPERATIONAL DOCUMENTS

The victory in the battles for Mariupol was achieved as a result of combined operations successfully carried out by the command of the troops of the Southern Front.

Soviet commanders had to organise the interaction of cavalry, as well as artillery, tank and motorised infantry units attacking the city from the east and northeast.

From the sea side, the landing of the amphibious assault was brilliantly carried out, the actions of which were supported by aviation and naval artillery. The naval infantry suddenly landed in the port of Mariupol and behind enemy lines west of the city, where they took control of an important transport hub. All this took the German Fascist troops by surprise. As a result, their resistance was quickly suppressed.

THE PLAN OF THE COMMAND

The text of the radio message with the order of the commander of the troops of the Southern Front, Colonel-General Fyodor Tolbukhin

The commander of the troops of the Southern Front, Colonel-General Fyodor Tolbukhin, ordered units of the 44th Army and the 4th Guards Kuban Cossack Corps to seize the city of Mariupol.

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The text of the radiogram with the order of the Chief of Staff of the Southern Front, Lieutenant General Sergey Biryuzov

Lieutenant General Sergey Biryuzov ordered the commander of the 4th Guards Kuban Cossack Corps to look for a weak spot in the enemy’s defence and, contacting the commander of the 4th Mechanised Corps, to organise interaction between the formations in the attack on Mariupol.

The plan of interaction of the 4th Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Corps and the 4th Guards Mechanised Corps in the battles for Mariupol

According to the plan of the decision, the 4th Guards Mechanised Corps at all stages of the offensive should cover the actions of the 4th Kuban Cossack Cavalry Corps from the north, parts of which were rapidly moving in a south-westerly direction towards Mariupol.

Combat order of the headquarters of the 8th Air Army dated August 18, 1943

The 270th Bomber Aviation Division was ordered to destroy enemy aircraft materiel at airfields in the areas of Stalino and Mariupol. At the same time, 60% of forces had to be allocated to the first direction, 40% to the second.

Combat order of the headquarters of the 8th Air Army of September 8, 1943

The 9th Guards Fighter Aviation Division, which later received the honorary name “Mariupol”, was assigned the task of covering from the air the actions of the advancing 4th Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Corps and marine landing detachments that landed in the areas of Yalta, Melekino and Mariupol. Also, Soviet pilots conducted reconnaissance of the area near Volnovakha.

Report to the Commander of the Southern Front troops of August 30, 1943 on the results of the amphibious operation of the naval infantry

This document describes the operation of the landing party of the Azov Military Flotilla (AMF) in the battles for Taganrog. In view of its success, it was decided on the night of September 9 to hold another one, but on a larger scale, for the liberation of Mariupol. “At 23.40 on 29.8.43, an amphibious detachment of the AMF as part of a company of naval infantry – 157 people on 11 boats – landed in the Bezymyanovka district, where they met fire resistance from three or four bunkers. Suddenly attacking the settlement, the detachment destroyed up to 200 soldiers and officers, up to 50 trucks and warehouses with food and ammunition.” Before dawn, the detachment was attacked by German tanks and artillery. The Soviet paratroopers, having destroyed three tanks, made an organised withdrawal. The total losses of Soviet servicemen were: one killed, eight wounded.

Combat order of the Southern Front Headquarters dated September 5 , 1943

According to the plan of the command, one of the amphibious detachments landed in Yalta and took control of an important road junction west of Mariupol, thereby cutting off the enemy’s escape routes. The main landing force landed a little later in the port of Mariupol.

On the same day, units of the 44th Army and the 4th Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Corps entered the city from the east and northeast.

REPORTS ON THE COURSE OF THE FIGHTING

Report on the liberation of Mariupol dated September 10 , 1943

On September 10, 1943, the troops of the Southern Front, developing success in all directions, advanced to a depth of 12 to 28 kilometres and liberated 123 settlements, including the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha.

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The report noted the contribution of the Mariupol amphibious assault: “The amphibious detachment 384 (separate battalion of naval infantry – ed.), having overcome the resistance of individual enemy groups, entered the port of Mariupol and continues to clear it of small enemy groups.”

Combat report of the Southern Front headquarters dated September 10 , 1943

By the time of 8:40 on September 10, 1943, it was reported that at 5:30 Soviet troops “broke into the north-western outskirts and the eastern outskirts of the city of Mariupol.

By 7:30, the part of the city on the eastern bank of the Kalmius River was completely cleared of the enemy. The battle continues in the area of the city, which is west of the Kalmius river. The enemy is putting up stubborn resistance.”

Report on the liberation of Mariupol dated September 10 , 1943

The operational document says that the 44th Army captured Mariupol and that, according to aviation data, Volnovakha is also under the control of Soviet troops.

Report of the commander of the 133rd Guards Army Mortar Regiment on participation in the battles for Taganrog and Mariupol

The 133rd Guards Army Mortar Regiment supported the actions of the 221st Rifle Division. It is noted that in the zone of the offensive of the Soviet troops for Mariupol, the enemy has equipped its defences on the Kalmius River. In the battles on this line, the regiment took an advantageous position and repulsed 12 counterattacks of the enemy, who was trying to restore the situation.

“On the night from 9 to 10.9.43, the enemy’s resistance was finally broken and the latter, pursued by units of 221 RD, began to retreat hastily. Chasing on the heels of the enemy and not allowing them to gain a foothold, the units of the 221 RD on the afternoon of 10.9.43 approached Mariupol and seized it on the move. The regiment, constantly following in the vanguard of the 221 RD units, destroyed with its fire in the battles for Mariupol: 415 soldiers and officers, 3 guns, 1 mortar battery, 8 machine guns, 8 cars, 4 wagons – and suppressed 1 artillery battery, 3 mortar batteries and 18 machine gun emplacements. 1,149 shells have been used.”

COMBAT LOGS

Journal of combat operations of the 4th Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Corps for the period from March 15 to September 25, 1943

The corps was advancing on Mariupol from the north-west direction. The units of the formation, having crossed the Kalmius River, were already fighting on its right bank on September 9: “Up to the end of the day, the division fought with the enemy west of Chermalyk, where it destroyed up to a company of enemy infantry from the 111 infantry division”.

Journal of combat operations of the 44th Army troops for September 1943

On September 10, 1943, the 44th Army, “having broken the enemy’s resistance, by 15.30 completely cleared the cities of Mariupol, Zavodskoy, Sartana. The enemy, under the pressure of our troops, retreated to the line: state farm of Volodarsky, Stariy Krym – Berdyansk Farms, from where they resisted stubbornly.”

Page from the combat log of the 130th Infantry Division

On September 10, 1943, at 4 o’clock in the morning, the division, pursuing the enemy retreating with fighting, broke into the city from the west. “Up to 600 enemy soldiers and officers were killed in the battles for Mariupol; 27 people were captured.”

Pages from the journal of combat operations of the 221st Infantry Division

“Units of the division with the main blow from the northern outskirts of the city, in cooperation with the neighbour on the left – 130 RD – captured the centre of the metallurgical industry of the South – Mariupol (…). By order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Marshal of the Soviet Union Comrade Stalin on September 10, 1943 for excellent combat actions during the liberation from the Nazi invaders of a large centre of the metallurgical industry of the South – the city and the port of Mariupol is thanked to the personnel, and the division became known as ‘Mariupol’.”

Pages from the journal of combat operations of the 625th Infantry Regiment

The document notes that on the approaches to Mariupol, the enemy, “occupying the defence on the right steep bank (Kalmius River – ed.), which was covered with individual boulders and stones,” thoroughly prepared the defence, equipped numerous pillboxes and bunkers, equipped minefields.

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In addition, the enemy’s advantage was also in the fact that from the high bank “they could see the entire surrounding area and there were no hidden approaches for the approach of our units.”

However, despite this, the units of the regiment as part of the 221st Infantry Division were able to break through the defences, forced a crossing of the river and reach Mariupol by September 10, 1943.

“The regiment, rapidly moving forward, overcoming enemy resistance, repelling infantry and tank counterattacks, entered the northeastern outskirts of the city of Mariupol at 10:00 a.m. on September 10, 1943.”

THE ATROCITIES OF THE NAZI OCCUPIERS

From the first days of the occupation, the Nazis began to exterminate Soviet citizens. They killed, among others, old people, women and children. They mocked people, carried out mass shootings, robbed the population, carried out bloody provocations in order to discredit the Soviet government.

When the Red Army units approached Mariupol, special fascist detachments began to undermine and destroy infrastructure facilities, destroy the city, blowing up schools, among others.

Two photographs show the destroyed school, which the Germans blew up during the retreat from the city, and the water treatment plant of the Ilyich plant blown up by them. The third, taken from a fascist officer, shows the corpses of tortured prisoners of the Red Army.

Indictment on the atrocities and crimes of the Nazi occupiers in the period from October 8, 1941 to September 10, 1943

“On the first day of the occupation on October 8, 1941, SS units captured 26 of the first citizens they came across and tortured them in the courtyard of the former NKVD building in the city centre. They skinned their hands, cut off their genitals, ears and immured the walls of the basement with the half-dead. After 13 days, these corpses were unearthed and shown to the public under the guise of victims of the NKVD. This is how citizens Levin, Kogan, Alivanov and others died.”

The Nazi invaders killed the elderly, women and children. They mocked Soviet citizens, carried out mass shootings, robbed the population, and also carried out provocations: “It was announced that Russian prisoners of war were coming from Rostov and Mariupol residents could pick up their identified relatives. Thousands of residents came out to meet the prisoners of war in the hope of seeing someone close to them. But instead of prisoners of war, German fascist troops came up. Fascist cameramen at that time filmed everything on film as ‘a meeting of the Russian population of German troops’.”

“Before fleeing, the fascist beasts deliberately burned and destroyed the city. Special detachments of torchholders from September 7 to September 10, 1943 burned and blew up all public and private buildings.”

HERO LIBERATORS

Order to the troops of the North Caucasian Front of September 5, 1943

Here are the award materials for the soldier-liberators of Mariupol. They describe in detail the exploits of Soviet shooters, gunners, sappers, as well as sailors of the Azov military flotilla who took part in the Mariupol landing.

KIRILLOV Nikolay Konstantinovich

KOZHEVNIKOV Nikolay Semyonovich

KRASNIKOV Pavel Vasilyevich

OLSHANSKY Konstantin Fedorovich

FIRSOV Fedor Petrovich

KATANOV Fedor Evgenyevich

Order of the Mariupol Rifle Division dated September 26 , 1943

ABOZIN Stepan Alekseyevich

ATAMANENKO Ivan Ignatievich

GRANKIN Mikhail Varlamovich

LEDOVSKY Andrey Arkhipovich

OSADCHY Aleksandr Andreyevich

SMIRNOV Ilya Nikolayevich

Aleksey Anastasievich SHIKERIN


Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

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