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Executions in Sebastopol ww2 - part 1

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Uploaded on Feb 13, 2011

The Soviet naval base at Sevastopol was one of the strongest fortifications in the world. Its site, on a deeply eroded, bare limestone promontory at the South-Western tip of the Crimea made an approach by land forces exceedingly difficult. The high-level cliffs at Severnaya Bay protected the anchorage, making an amphibious landing just as dangerous. The Soviet Navy had built upon these natural defences by modernising the port and installing heavy coastal and artillery defences which could fire inland and out to sea. The artillery was protected by strong concrete and armoured turrets. The port was a valuable target. Its importance as a potential naval and air base would enable the Axis to conduct far ranging sea and air operations against Soviet targets into and over the Caucasus ports and mountains. The Red Air Force had been using the Crimea as a base to attack targets in Romania since the Axis invasion in June 1941, proving its use as an air base.

Since the beginning of Barbarossa, the planned offensive in the east had not really addressed the Crimea as an objective. German planners assumed the area would be captured in mop-up operations once the bulk of the Red Army was destroyed west of the Dnepr river. But in June attacks by Soviet aircraft from the Crimea against Romania's oil refineries destroyed 11,000 tons of oil. Hitler described the area as a "floating aircraft carrier" and ordered the conquest of the Ukraine and the Crimea as vital targets in the Directive 33, dated 23 July 1941.

The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) issued orders that the Crimea was to be taken as soon as possible to prevent attacks on Romanian oil supplies, which fed the German military. Hitler, impatient with his commands advance in the south, repeated his desire that the Crimea be taken immediately on 12 August. Over a month later, during the capture of Kiev, Generaloberst Erich von Manstein was given command of the German 11th Army on 17 September. After only a week in command, he launched an assault upon the Crimea. After severe fighting, von Manstein defeated several Soviet counter-offensives and destroyed two Soviet armies. By 16 November, von Manstein had cleared the region, capturing its capital Simferopol, on 1 November. The fall of Kerch on 16 November left only Sevastopol in Soviet hands.

Fortunately for the Soviets, by the end of October 1941, Major-General Ivan Yefimovich Petrov's Independent Coastal Army, numbering 32,000 men, had arrived in Sevastopol by sea from Odessa, further west, having been routed in heavy fighting. Petrov set about fortifying the inland approaches to the Crimea. He aimed to halt the Axis drive on the port by creating three defence lines inland, the outermost arc being 16km (10 mi) from the port itself. Soviet forces, including the Soviet 51st Army and elements of the Black Sea Fleet, were defeated in the Crimea in October and were evacuated in December leaving Petrov's force as Sevastopol's main defence force. Having cleared the Crimea from 26 September--16 November, the Romanian 3rd Army and German 11th Army prepared for an attack on the port. The German 11 Army was the weakest on the entire front, containing only seven divisions intitially. The Romanians made up the numbers, but were poorly trained, led and only lightly equipped. The weather turned against the Axis in mid-October and torrential downpours delayed the build up. This gave time for Vice Admiral Filipp Oktyabrsky, commander of the Black Sea Fleet, to bring in men and ammunition from Novorossisk. By the 17 December the weather had cleared sufficiently to begin a major operation.

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