The 1944 Liberation of Odessa

NEW – July 8, 2022

The Odessa offensive operation of 1944 (March 26 – April 14, 1944), which began with the liberation of Nikolaev, became a major success of the Red Army in defeating the coastal grouping of Nazi forces between the Southern Bug and Dniester rivers, and allowed the liberation of a strategically important city and port on the Black Sea coast – Odessa.

The Black Sea Fleet was able to relocate ships and aircraft to the north-western region of the Black Sea basin, which posed a threat from the sea to the enemy’s Crimean grouping already blocked from land; conditions were created for further operations in Moldova, Romania and the Balkans.

For the liberation of the city, many units and formations were awarded orders, and 27 of the most distinguished were awarded honorary titles of “Odessa”.

The documents were provided by the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and the Department for Perpetuating the Memory of those Killed in the Defence of the Motherland.

FIGHTING FOR THE LIBERATION OF ODESSA

The troops of the 8th Guards and 6th Armies bypassed Odessa from the north-western direction. To their right, the cavalry-mechanised group (CMG) of Lieutenant General Issa Pliyev operated, whose task was to reach the Dniester estuary behind enemy lines. The 5th Shock Army was advancing on the city from the northeast along the Black Sea coast.

From the description of the Odessa-Dniester operation of the 3rd Ukrainian Front

“A significant number of troops, weapons and military equipment accumulated in the city and in the Odessa region forced the enemy to defend the approaches to the city with great tenacity. The German command had high hopes for the heavily fortified northern and north-western regions”. “At that time, separate special units of the Germans hurriedly prepared for the explosion and blew up industrial buildings, factories, factories, as well as all port facilities in the Odessa area.”

Preparing for the storming of the city, the Red Army relied on the help of Soviet citizens living near Odessa: “Guides who know the city and the enemy’s defences well were taken from the local population and villages adjacent to the city.”

Combat reports of the headquarters of the 3rd Ukrainian Front from April 8 to April 11, 1944

From the journal of combat operations of the 3rd Ukrainian Front (in the period from April 8 to April 10, 1944)

Operational documents describe in detail, step by step, the progress of the liberation of Odessa from Nazi occupation. Thus, on April 8, 1944, a group of 10 attack aircraft attacked enemy military facilities in the port of Odessa. And the very next day, the troops of the 5th Shock Army, having broken the enemy’s resistance, liberated the Peresyp area and fought on the northern outskirts of the city.

On the night of April 9-10, units of the 8th Guards and 6th Armies began to storm Odessa from the north-western direction. In the morning, according to the report of the front headquarters at 10:00, fierce street fighting still continued. However, already in the report at 15:00 it was reported: “Having broken the enemy’s resistance, as a result of the assault of the troops of the left wing of the front (5th Shock Army, 8th Guards. and the 6th Army) at 10:00 on 10.4 captured a strong German defence stronghold on the Black Sea coast, a large industrial centre, a railway junction, an important port on the Black Sea and the regional centre of Ukraine, the city of Odessa.”

In total, in the battles for Odessa, “3,000 people of military age, imprisoned by the Germans in the camp, were released. During the same time, more than 5,000 soldiers and officers were destroyed, 1,100 people were taken prisoner.”

5TH SHOCK ARMY

From materials on the study of the combat experience of the 5th Shock Army

Here is the combat path of the army from Nikolaev to Odessa. In addition, the system of Nazi defence, which had to be penetrated by Soviet units and subunits, is described in detail. So, it consisted of four lines with deep trenches. Wire fences were installed closer to the city, dugouts and pillboxes were equipped. “The first defensive line, very advantageous for defence, was the line along the western shore of the Tiligul estuary.

In an effort to delay our offensive here, the enemy mined the approaches to the estuary” and destroyed the only crossing, blowing up all the bridges on the 3.5-kilometre dam. “The enemy’s positions on the towering west bank were very strong.” However, despite this, the soldiers of the Red Army “not expecting the repair of bridges on the dam, on the night of 1.4.44 in a strong blizzard forcedly crossed the Tiligul estuary to ford the isthmus between the estuary and the sea flooded with spring flood.

The depth of the water in some places reached the shoulders, the furious machine-gun and mortar fire of the enemy whipped in the face, but the guards went on. Having attacked the positions of the enemy on the move, the infantry units drove him out of the occupied coast and firmly entrenched themselves on it.”

Combat reports of the headquarters of the 5th Shock Army (from 3 to 10 April 1944)

On April 9, 1944, at 18:00, the troops of the 5th Shock Army were already fighting in the northern part of the city, the assault of which did not stop at night: “The enemy during the night and morning of 10.4.44, conducting street battles in Odessa, sought to ensure the complete evacuation of troops and equipment, but as a result of decisive actions of the army troops by 10:00 10.4.44 was knocked out of the city of Odessa.

The remnants of the defeated units of the Germans and Romanians hastily retreated in a south-westerly direction.”

6th Army

Combat reports of the 6th Army headquarters from April 8 to April 13, 1944

From the journal of combat operations of the 6th Army (from 9 to 10 April)

On April 10, 1944, the enemy “in the second half of the night could not withstand the attack of the advancing army formations that broke into the outskirts of the city, hiding behind heavy fire of all types of weapons, began to retreat to the centre of Odessa.” In the afternoon, all pockets of resistance of the fascists were suppressed, and the Red Army units began to restore order: “Engineering troops cleared state institutions, houses and streets of the city of Odessa.”

8TH GUARDS ARMY

Combat reports of the 8th Guards Army from 9 to 10 April, 1944

From the journal of combat operations of the 8th Guards Army (for the period from April 8 to April 10, 1944)

“During the night, the enemy, pressed by our troops, continued to withdraw in the south-western direction and part of the forces in the direction of Odessa, while providing strong fire resistance at the intermediate lines and trying to delay the advance of our troops. The army troops, as a result of a skilful bypass manoeuvre, overcoming resistance nodes and systems of water boundaries during difficult meteorological conditions and off-road conditions, came close to Odessa from the west.”

By 6:00, army troops broke into the outskirts of the city and started street fighting. “In the battles for the capture of Odessa, the enemy suffered significant damage: only up to 1,000 people were killed. And over 500 soldiers and officers taken prisoner.”

MEMORY OF HEROES

For heroism and bravery shown in the battles for the city, 14 people were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, more than 2,150 people were awarded orders and medals of the USSR. Numerous monuments were erected near communal graves in memory of the fallen heroes in the battles for Odessa in the city and region.

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Odessa, Lustdorf road No. 6 at the 2nd Christian Cemetery

The burial is located in the central part of the cemetery. It is an alley of tombstones made of white marble with an inscription of the surname of the patronymic name.

In total, 360 soldiers and commanders of the Red Army and Naval Infantry are buried here.

The city of Belyaevka, Odessa region, Lenin Street

There are two communal graves in the local military cemetery of 1944, in which the remains of 214 servicemen rest.

Monuments were erected here: a sculpture of a Soviet soldier and an obelisk with the inscription: “Eternal memory to the heroes of the Red Cossacks.”

In these places fought sub-units and units of the cavalry-mechanised group of Lieutenant General Issa Pliyev, which during the Odessa operation reached the Dniester Estuary, cutting off the enemy’s retreat from Odessa.

The city of Balta, Odessa region, Memorial of Glory

217 soldiers and commanders of the Red Army and 28 partisans are buried here. In the centre of the memorial complex on a high pedestal stands a monument in the form of a sculpture of a woman holding a rifle in her right hand and stretching her left hand over a communal grave.

At the foot of the monument there is a granite slab with the inscription: “Oh, Motherland, after all, this is your image on a pedestal, facing the sun. You protect the memory and peace of the fearless and unconquered fighters.”

HERO LIBERATORS OF ODESSA

The courage and heroism of the Red Army soldiers are immortalised not only in memorials on communal graves, but also in simple records of archival documents. Below are the award materials of the liberators of Odessa that describe their exploits.

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Vladimir Dmitrievich GERASIMOV

Ivan Ivanovich GONCHAROV

Aleksandr Ivanovich GORSKIN

Pyotr Akimovich DYACHKIN

Ivan Ivanovich KERENTSEV

Nikolay Ivanovich KLEMENTYEV

Andrey Alekseyevich KOVALEV

Vasily Tarasovich LEVDA

Ivan Maksimovich MALYSHEV

Mikhail Matveyevich MITUSOV

Aleksey Maksimovich PAZERSKY

THE ATROCITIES OF THE FASCISTS

During the occupation of the city by the Nazis from October 16, 1941 to April 9, 1944, as a result of the atrocities of the fascists in Odessa and the region, about 200,000 people died, 2,290 buildings were destroyed in the city itself, museums were looted. The facts of this atrocity and barbarism were recorded both in Soviet reports and in the diaries of the occupiers.

Report to the Main Political Directorate of the Soviet Army and Naval Infantry from April 11 , 1944

In addition to describing the storming of the city and the work of political officers, the document also reports on the atrocities of the Nazi occupiers: “Retreating under the onslaught of our troops, the Germans applied all their villainous skills of the pogromists to destroy and burn the beautiful Odessa. They burned down a lot of big beautiful buildings in the city.

Its industrial enterprises, educational institutions, scientific and cultural-educational institutions, historical monuments, museums, hospitals and polyclinics were blown up and destroyed (…) The most beautiful streets of the city, Deribasovskaya and Pushkinskaya, were especially affected by the Nazi pogromists.”

In addition to the destruction of the city, the fascists carried out mass extermination of citizens: “During their time in Odessa, the German-Romanian executioners shot and tortured tens of thousands of peaceful Soviet citizens (…) in the last days of their stay in the city, the Germans, in their bestial hatred of the Soviet people, committed mass massacres of the inhabitants of Odessa. German and Romanian soldiers opened submachine-gun and machine-gun fire on women, children and the elderly who appeared on the streets of the city.” As it is noted in the report: “Residents of the city of Odessa with unprecedented patriotic enthusiasm and triumph met their liberator – the Red Army. The residents hugged the soldiers and officers of our units who entered the city, wept with joy, asked if they needed any help.”

Report of the political department of the 5th Shock Army on the state of Odessa after liberation from occupation

On the eve of the arrival of the Red Army, the fascists destroyed almost the entire industry of the city, destroyed the power plant and water supply. Educational institutions were also burned, a significant part of residential buildings and cultural institutions were destroyed.

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Thus, “the Pushkin Historical Museum – Pushkin’s house on Pushkinskaya Street, in which the poet lived during his stay in Odessa, was completely demolished.

Now there is a solid blank wall on the site of the museum.” In addition, “before fleeing from Odessa, the Germans released all criminals from prisons, and political prisoners were destroyed.”

Extracts from diaries, notebooks of Romanian prisoners of war

One of the most valuable pieces of evidence of the atrocities of fascism are the diaries of the occupiers themselves, in which they did not hesitate to record what they did on the streets of the city. Here are the records from 1941, about the first days of the occupation. “On October 23, the executions of Jews and communists began.

At 11 o’clock in the morning, 20 gallows were installed in the park (near the port), on which communists were hanged, and men, women, and girls were shot on the streets, at every intersection. Their corpses were lying around all day so that the rest of the population could see them. They were buried at night.” “On October 24, women, girls and children were herded into 4 large wooden sheds on the outskirts of the city, near the tram depot. A tanker bus with kerosene has arrived. The sheds were doused with kerosene and set on fire. People in the sheds threw everything off from themselves, shouted, cried, but all burned.”

WAR PRESS

Issue of the newspaper “Soviet Warrior” from April 11, 1944

ORDER OF THE SUPREME COMMANDER

Army General MALINOVSKY

The troops of the 3rd Ukrainian Front today, April 10, as a result of a skillful bypass maneuver of infantry and cavalry-mechanized formations, combined with a frontal attack, captured an important economic and political center of the country, a regional city of Ukraine and a first-class port on the Black Sea – Odessa – a powerful German defense stronghold covering the way to the central districts Romania.

In the battles for the capture of Odessa, the troops of Colonel-General Tsvetayev, Lieutenant-General Shlemin, Colonel-General Chuikov, Lieutenant-General Glazunov, Lieutenant-General Morozov, Major-General Gorokhov, Major-General Rubanyuk, Major-General Kupriyanov, Major-General Makovchuk distinguished themselves; cavalry formations of the Kuban Cossacks of Lieutenant-General Pliyev; tankers of Major General of Tank Troops Zhdanov; gunners of Colonel-General of Artillery Nedelin, Lieutenant-General of Artillery Voznyuk, Major-General of Artillery Levin, Major-General of Artillery Kosenko, pilots of Colonel-General of Aviation Sudets, Major-General of Aviation Tolstikov, Major-General of Aviation Shevchenko and signalmen of Lieutenant-General of Communications Troops Leonov.

In commemoration of the victory, the formations and units that most distinguished themselves in the battles for the liberation of Odessa should be presented for the assignment of the name “Odessa” and for the award of orders.

Today, April 10, at 20 o’clock, the capital of our Motherland, Moscow, on behalf of the Motherland, salutes our valiant troops who liberated Odessa with 24 artillery volleys from 324 guns.

At the same time, the ships of the Black Sea Fleet should make a salute with 12 artillery volleys from one 120 guns, in honour of the troops who liberated Odessa, the most important port on the Black Sea, from the German invaders.

For excellent combat actions, I declare my gratitude to all the troops led by you who participated in the battles for the liberation of Odessa.

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for the freedom and independence of our Motherland!

Death to the German invaders!

SUPREME COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

MARSHAL OF THE SOVIET UNION, I. STALIN


Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

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