THE BATTLE FOR THE DNIEPER – “So that the memory will live on for centuries”

NEW – May 30, 2022

The battle for the Dnieper played a decisive role in the liberation of Ukraine from fascism during the Great Patriotic War. One of its key events was the unique Zaporozhye offensive operation conducted over four days. The troops of the left wing of the South-Western Front eliminated an important fascist bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnieper, liberated the city of Zaporozhye and saved the Dnieper hydroelectric power station from destruction.

This success was achieved thanks to the courage and bravery of Soviet soldiers, their resilience, which gave them the strength to attack day and night and show the most real heroism, immortalised in numerous memorials near their communal graves. Despite all the attempts of the current Ukrainian authorities to rewrite history and belittle the feat of the soldiers and commanders of the Red Army, the memory of it – of the heroism of the liberators of Zaporozhye – will live on for centuries…


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 who Died in the Defence of the Motherland.


MEMORY OF THE LIBERATING HEROES

KAPUSTYANY CEMETERY in the Shevchenkovsky district of Zaporozhye

Most of the soldier liberators of the city, who gave their lives for the Motherland, were buried at the Kapustyany cemetery of the Shevchenkovsky district.

There are 28 communal graves and 20 individual ones. They contain the remains of 3,166 Soviet servicemen, of whom only 1,779 are known.

In the centre of the cemetery there is a massive monument – a bust of the liberator warrior on a pedestal.

COMMUNAL GRAVE in the Dneprovsky district of the city

In the Dneprovsky district (until 2016 – Leninsky) of the city on Shushenskaya Street there is a communal grave in which 59 defenders of the Motherland found rest, two of them remained unknown.

The tombstone is a high granite stele of several meters, on which a star is stamped and the inscription: “Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for the freedom and independence of our Motherland. 1941-1945”.

At the foot of the monument there are signs with the names of heroes buried in the communal grave.

COMMUNAL GRAVE in the Zavodsky district of the city

In the Zavodsky district of the city, on Podporozhnaya Street, there is another mass grave where five soldiers and two commanders of the Red Army are buried.

Above the grave is a monument/sculpture of two soldier liberators, installed on a high pedestal. Both servicemen are holding their hats in their hands, bowing their heads. One of them is standing with a banner, the other is on one knee.

MILITARY BURIAL SITE in the village of Novoaleksandrovka

One of the largest communal graves is located in the south-eastern suburb of Zaporozhye – in the village of Novoaleksandrovka.

1077 soldiers and commanders of the Red Army who died in the battles for these lands are buried in it.

Here, on a concrete pedestal, there is a sculpture of a warrior holding a wreath in his hands. Around it are signs with the names of the fallen servicemen.

MILITARY BURIAL SITE in the village of Grigoryevka

Not far from Novoaleksandrovka, in the village of Grigoryevka, there is another large military burial site.

Here lie the remains of 448 Soviet soldiers who shed their blood for the freedom of the Motherland.

Next to the mass grave is a sculpture of a warrior with a banner.

MILITARY BURIAL SITE in the village of Razumovka

In the south of Zaporozhye, in the village of Razumovka, near the House of Culture, there is a military burial site where 513 soldiers and commanders of the Red Army were buried. A monument was erected here – a sculpture of a Soviet soldier with a wreath.

ATTEMPTS BY UKRAINIAN NATIONALISTS TO DESTROY THE MEMORY OF THE HEROIC PAST OF THE SOVIET PEOPLE

Recently, the memory of the exploits of Soviet soldiers who liberated Ukraine has been systematically and deliberately destroyed. Not so long ago, in the Voznesensky district of Zaporozhye, a memorial was vandalised by local authorities, as part of the so-called decommunisation, which is a model of a Lavochkin fighter jet mounted on a high pedestal, assembled by activists from parts of various aircraft.

On both sides of the monument there are plaques with the names of pilots who did not return from combat missions during the war – the location of their graves is unknown. In the front part of the pedestal was mounted the Order of Victory and a plaque with the inscription: “To the soldier aviators who defended Zaporozhye in August-September 1941 and liberated it in October 1943.”

Local authorities decided to remove the Order of Victory from the pedestal, and instead of red stars on the Soviet plane, put a trident, distinctive signs of the air forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the nationalist slogan “Glory to Ukraine“.

HEROISM OF THE LIBERATORS OF ZAPOROZHYE

Dmitry STEFANOV – Guards Junior Lieutenant

“Comrade Stefanov with five fighters undertook a detour and, having crossed the ditch, threw grenades at the bunker, and his fighters were knocked out, and he himself was wounded. The enemy continued to fire machine guns at the advancing infantry, hindering its advance.

Comrade Stefanov, being wounded, with the cry ‘For the Motherland! For Stalin! For the liberation of Ukraine!’, crawled up to the bunker and closed the embrasure with his body.”

Nikolay YATSENKO – Lieutenant

“Comrade Yatsenko on 14.10.43 was the first to break into the outskirts of the city, cleared the bridge by the force of the crew and troops on a tank, thereby ensuring the passage of the rest of the combat vehicles.

( … ) Personally, by his example, determination, fearlessness, he destroyed: two tanks, one self-propelled gun, 10 firing points and over 100 soldiers and officers.

In the battles for the city of Zaporozhye, the tank was hit and caught fire. Being wounded, comrade Yatsenko, despite this, did not leave the vehicle and continued to fight. After a second wound, comrade Yatsenko was killed in his combat vehicle.”

Medi BEGENOV – Sergeant

“He was the first to break into the enemy’s trenches, personally in hand-to-hand combat destroyed seven German soldiers and one non-commissioned officer, which ensured the advancement of his platoon

In the further offensive, a personal example of courage and bravery with shouts of ‘Hurrah! For the Motherland!’ broke into the second line of enemy trenches, dragging the squad members with him, forced the enemy to flee.”

Yakov BOCHAROV – Guards Senior Sergeant

In a battle with German tanks, he, being seriously wounded on his left arm, was left alone from his calculation: “Bleeding to death, with Bolshevik tenacity and steadfastness, he continued to shoot at tanks with one right hand. The German tank approached Bocharov’s cannon at full speed and already managed to make several shots at it at point-blank range.

Despite this, Bocharov did not lose his head and knocked out this tank, the third in a row. The shells came out, Bocharov quickly took the machine gun, putting it on the gun carriage, managed to fire several long bursts at the fascists with the exclamation ‘Here you bastards! For Ukraine!’ At this moment, a direct hit of a German shell broke the cannon, where Bocharov was killed.”

Viktor KHANANENKO – Senior Sergeant

“In the battles from 10.10.43 to 14.10.43 for Zaporozhye, commander of the intelligence department Sergeant Khananenko, being all the time in the infantry battle formations, corrected the battery’s fire on enemy concentrations and fire weapons that interfere with the advance of our infantry, and destroyed up to an infantry platoon and three machine-gun points.

By his actions, he helped the infantry move forward. When repelling an enemy counterattack in the x area. He personally destroyed five Hitlerites with a submachine gun.”

Order for the 269th Guards Rifle Regiment from October 15, 1943

Order for the 242nd Guards Rifle Regiment from October 15, 1943


MOCKERY OF ZAPOROZHYE RESIDENTS

Soviet soldiers, giving their lives, shed blood for the freedom of Soviet citizens from Nazi oppression, from the mockery and atrocities of the invaders, who exterminated Zaporozhye residents with particular cruelty, as is evidenced by the documents below.

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Report on the work of the Political Department of the 12th Army in the liberated Zaporozhye

The city was under occupation from October 3, 1941 to October 14, 1943. During this time, the Germans turned Zaporozhye “into a huge concentration camp, establishing a regime of bloody terror, medieval obscurantism and barbaric robbery”.

The occupiers, after unsuccessful attempts to put the city’s industry in their service, exterminated it, destroyed the existing education system and arranged unbearable slave conditions for Zaporozhye residents .

In addition, they massively exterminated the population: “On the night of March 7-8, 1942, German patrols went around the houses, raised everyone to their feet. Whole families – old people, women, children – were thrown out on the street. There were Ukrainians, Russians, and Jews here.”

3,000 people were taken away that night by German executioners, driving their victims to prison. At the stadium, the Germans undressed people and set them going on the running track one by one.

“In the suburban state farm, about which the population still speaks with horror, thousands of corpses are buried in pits. People prepared for execution were lined up in 10 lines. The second threw earth on the first one shot, the third – on the second, and so on.”

Appendix to the report of the Political Department of the 12th Army

The report of the Political Department of the 12th army is accompanied by announcements, resolutions and orders of the German occupation authorities, propaganda leaflets of the fascists, samples of banknotes issued on the territory of occupied Ukraine, and other documents, including a registration card from the labour exchange, which indicates that its owner lived on Hitler Street.

(First of all, the occupation authorities renamed in Zaporozhye one of the main streets of the city – after Karl Liebknecht, now Sobor Avenue).

Appeal of the workers of Zaporozhye to the soldiers of the Red Army who liberated the city

On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the Great October Revolution, Zaporozhye residents drew up an appeal to the liberators of the city of Zaporozhye, in which, thanking the soldiers, they directly pointed out what the Red Army had saved them from. “It is difficult to take into account all the atrocities committed by the Fascist barbarians.

During the two years of their rule, the German robbers turned our socialist city of Great Zaporozhye, with its beautiful Dnieper Hydroelectric Power Station, giant factories, institutes, theatres, parks and gardens, into a pile of ruins. The best residential buildings in the city were destroyed and burned by the dirty hands of German scoundrels. But the monstrous atrocities, tortures, violence and bullying did not break our faith, our consciousness and hope for our liberation from the clutches of bloody fascism.

We believed that the Red Army, our friend and father, the great Stalin, would save us from destruction.”

ZAPOROZHYE OFFENSIVE OPERATION

The offensive of the Soviet troops on Zaporozhye developed rapidly and extremely successfully. After four days of fighting, the Soviet troops broke through the outer and intermediate lines of the Nazi defences and by the end of October 13, 1943, reached the outskirts of the city. In order to prevent the fascists from respite and the opportunity to recover, the Soviet command decided to continue hostilities at night. For the first time in the entire Second World War, a night assault was successfully carried out, in which the interaction of such huge forces was organised. As a result, on October 14, 1943, the soldiers of the Red Army completely cleansed the city from the Nazi invaders.

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Report maps of combat operations of the 3rd Ukrainian Front (formerly the South-Western Front)

Operational maps show the positions of the enemy and the course of the Zaporozhye offensive operation. Its plan was to launch simultaneous attacks from the northeast (12th Army), east (8th Guards Army) and southeast (3rd Guards Army) with the forces of three armies. The main one was applied in the offensive zone of the 8th Guards Army.

From the journal of combat operations of the troops of the 3rd Ukrainian Front (for October 13-14, 1943)

The lines of the document testify to the fierceness of the fighting, the massive use of tanks and aircraft in the battles: “The enemy in the Zaporozhye direction, retreating beyond the River Dnieper, with heavy fire and repeated counterattacks by infantry with tanks, with a massive impact of aviation, sought to hold back the advance of our units.

In other areas, the enemy did not show any activity with manpower. Enemy aircraft in groups of 10 to 50 aircraft repeatedly bombed the battle formations of the advancing units.” However, despite the fierce resistance of the Nazis, Soviet troops were able to overcome it and on October 14, 1943, “after repelling a number of fierce counterattacks by infantry and tanks, they advanced from 5 to 10 km, occupied up to 20 settlements, and stormed a major railway junction and the city of Zaporozhye.”

Combat report of the headquarters of the 8th Guards Army of October 14, 1943

A massive night assault is reported, which was skilfully organised by the Soviet command and led to a huge success: “The formations of the 8th Guards Army, after a ten-minute artillery preparation, went on the offensive at 22:10 on 13.10.43, breaking the enemy’s resistance, captured the settlements of Vesely, Zelyony, Chumatskaya, Grabarova, Krakov, Stepnaya, Mokraya and by the morning of 14.10.43 they approached the eastern outskirts of the city of Zaporozhye.

At 8:00, the units began storming the city and by 13:00, having captured the city of Zaporozhye, they reached the bank of the Dnieper River.”

Order of the Supreme Commander of the troops of the 8th Guards Army of October 14, 1943

By this order, for the liberation of the city, many formations and units of the Red Army were given the honorary name “Zaporozhye”.

It also says: “Today, October 14, 1943 at 11:30 pm, the capital of our Motherland, Moscow, on behalf of the Motherland, salutes our valiant troops, who liberated the city of Zaporozhye with 20 artillery volleys from 224 guns.”

From the combat log of the 3rd Guards Army (for October 12-14, 1944)

In the operational document, the decision of the Soviet command to launch a night assault is explained by the task of not giving the exhausted enemy at least the slightest time to rest and organise a new defence: “The commander of the Southwestern Front set the task for the 3rd Guards Army to resolutely pursue the enemy, without giving it the opportunity to gain a foothold on the city and by the morning of 14.10.43, in cooperation with the neighbour on the right (8th Guards Army – ed.), to seize the city of Zaporozhye.”

Extract from the journal of combat operations of the 59th Guards Rifle Division (for October 1-15, 1943)

Operating as part of the 3rd Guards Army, the 59th Guards Rifle Division broke into the city, actively using tank landings: “The 59th Guards Kramatorsk Rifle Division, overcoming stubborn enemy resistance, continued its offensive in the direction of Yuzhny and at 3:00 on 14.10.43, taking out the main enemy forces, capturing Yuzhny, two rifle battalions of the 179th Guards Rifle Regiment continued the battle with tanks in the centre of the city of Zaporozhye.”

From the journal of combat operations of the 23rd Tank Corps (for October 1-17, 1943)

The Red Army in the Zaporozhye operation used more than 200 self-propelled guns and tanks, a significant part of which belonged to the 23rd Tank Corps. It was on these combat vehicles that numerous paratroopers of the 59th Guards Rifle Division broke into the city.

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The combat log reports: “The corps, as a result of a night attack, unexpectedly approached the outskirts of Zaporozhye, managed to force a crossing of anti-tank ditches at night and break into Zaporozhye, ensuring the capture of the latter by the 8th and 3rd guards armies.”

From the journal of combat operations of the 66th Rifle Corps (for October 1-15, 1943)

From the north-east in the direction of the city of Zaporozhye, liberating its industrial area, units of the 12th army advanced.

It consisted of the 66th Rifle Corps, whose combat log contains an analysis of the unusual tactics of the Soviet troops who launched a massive night assault: “For the development of success, it is advantageous to use the night, since the enemy, without having time to take up and organise defence on the new line ( … ), cannot provide significant fire resistance.” Moreover, this operational document notes that “the Zaporozhye operation is characterised by the use of a wide variety of tactical forms in the situation.

Thus, the offensive began during the day, at night, at dawn, with an artillery preparation of 5-10 minutes, a fire raid, or suddenly without artillery fire; in one section, units attacked, in another – defended or provided a flank. Engagements and detours alternated with frontal attacks.”


The same journal of military operations gives a vivid description of the picture that the liberators of Zaporozhye saw when they entered the city: “The advancing units saw a stunning panorama of the destruction of the largest industrial centre – the city of Zaporozhye. Giant factories: ‘Zaporozhstal’, Aluminium Plant, Magnesium Plant – and dozens of other enterprises were turned by the Germans into a pile of rubble.

The city burned, shrouded in smoke; the savage enemy, thrown out of the city, destroyed everything. But nothing could stop the mighty avalanche of Soviet divisions at that moment.” The fierceness of the fighting is evidenced by the following lines of the document: “There were frequent hand-to-hand fights in the streets and squares. Fighters, not waiting for a command, rushed at the enemy and beat them with a bayonet and butt wherever they saw them. The Germans who settled in houses were knocked out with grenades. Metre by metre, house by house, parts of the corps cleansed the city of the Nazis, knocking them out of the quarters and streets.”

From the journal of combat operations of the 203rd Rifle Division (for October 13-15, 1943)

“A powerful, rapid strike from three directions on this day took the city of Zaporozhye. Neither the strong lines of the enemy’s fortifications nor the fierce counterattacks could stop the victorious advance of our units.

The fighters fought like lions. Zaporozhye is ours! A large industrial and regional centre of Ukraine has been liberated. The division liberated ‘Zaporozhstal’.

Giant factories have become free again. The glorious victory of our units deserved high praise – the division was given the name ‘Zaporozhye’ and the gratitude of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Marshal of the Soviet Union Comrade Stalin.”

VICTORY

The troops of the South-Western Front, continuing to develop a successful offensive, broke the fierce resistance of the enemy and on October 14 stormed the regional centre of Ukraine – the city of ZAPOROZHYE. Thus, the Zaporozhye bridgehead of the Germans on the left bank of the DNIEPER River was eliminated.

From the operational report of the Soviet Information Bureau dated 14.10.1943

Issue of the newspaper “Soviet Warrior” from October 15, 1943

Issue of the newspaper “Soviet Warrior” from October 16, 1943

Issue of the newspaper “Soviet Warrior” from October 17, 1943

Report on the implementation of the resolution of the Military Council of the 3rd Ukrainian Front

“On the provision of assistance by units of the Red Army to the population of the regions of Ukraine liberated from the German occupation”.

Having liberated the city and the region, the Red Army soldiers also helped restore the economy destroyed by the Nazis.

For example, in September-November 1943, the troops of the 6th Army actively supplied building materials for enterprises and transport infrastructure, helped collective farms in harvesting and in veterinary support.

In addition, the servicemen provided significant assistance to the health authorities, in particular on epidemic issues: “In Zaporozhye and in a number of other cities, emergency epidemic commissions have been organised, which, with the participation of specialists from the sanitary department, carry out their work to eliminate epidemic foci.”


Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

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