Made for the German home market in 1942, this silent German film shows Wehrmacht troops advancing far into Ukraine, and meeting the Russian Army at Kharkov. The film starts by showing the “bulge” in Axis lines and then shows an artillery and tank barrage to crush the Russian salient. At :45 a smashed Russian tank is shown as Panzers strike near Krashnograd. At 1:04 motorcycle troops are shown moving on a train which is also carrying infantry and artillery pieces as well as horse-drawn supply wagons. At 1:40 German troops are shown deploying in trenches while artillery and aircraft strike enemy forces. At 2:00 a huge bomb drop shatters Russian lines. At 2:20 Panzers move along a road, followed by an armored column escorted by motorcycle troops and tank destroyers or mobile artillery. At 2:55 German troops advance in what appears to be a hot day. At 3:00 horse drawn wagons move along the supply routes. German infantry advance at 3:26 taking Russian prisoners. At 3:33 the Russian bulge is eliminated from the map, while artillery on the heights above a river lay day fire against enemy positions. At 4:00 German Dornier bombers make another drop against the Soviets. At 4:40 the outskirts of Kharkov are seen littered with destroyed vehicles, and groups of Soviet prisoners are seen assembling en masse. The victory of the Germans is decisive but — the Soviets would turn the tide during the winter.

The Second Battle of Kharkov or Operation Fredericus was an Axis counter-offensive in the region around Kharkov (now Kharkiv) against the Red Army Izium bridgehead offensive conducted 12–28 May 1942, on the Eastern Front during World War II. Its objective was to eliminate the Izium bridgehead over Seversky Donets or the “Barvenkovo bulge” which was one of the Soviet offensive’s staging areas. After a winter counter-offensive that drove German troops away from Moscow but depleted the Red Army’s reserves, the Kharkov offensive was a new Soviet attempt to expand upon their strategic initiative, although it failed to secure a significant element of surprise.

On 12 May 1942, Soviet forces under the command of Marshal Semyon Timoshenko launched an offensive against the German 6th Army from a salient established during the winter counter-offensive. After a promising start, the offensive was stopped on 15 May by a massive German campaign of airstrikes. Critical Soviet errors by several staff officers and by Joseph Stalin, who failed to accurately estimate the 6th Army’s potential and overestimated their own newly raised forces, facilitated a German pincer attack on 17 May which cut off three Soviet field armies from the rest of the front by 22 May. Hemmed into a narrow area, the 250,000-strong Soviet force inside the pocket was exterminated from all sides by German armored, artillery and machine gun firepower as well as 7,700 tonnes of air-dropped bombs. After six days of encirclement, organized Soviet resistance came to an end as the Soviet formations were either killed or taken prisoner.

The battle was an overwhelming German victory, with 280,000 Soviet casualties compared to just 20,000 for the Germans and their allies. The German Army Group South pressed its advantage, encircling the Soviet 28th Army on 13 June in Operation Wilhelm and pushing back the 38th and 9th Armies on 22 June in Operation Fridericus II as preliminary operations to Case Blue, which was launched on 28 June as the main German offensive on the Eastern Front in 1942.

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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com

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