Last Act at the Tractor Works - Red Victory
Last Act at the Tractor WorksBy Ozgur Budak
12 - 1 - 7
15 MARCH 1943, TRACTOR WORKS DISTRICT, EASTERN SUBURBS OF KHARKOV: After 4 days of continuous combat SS Panzer Korps captured most of Kharkov. The "Leibstandarte" secured the area around the city center and the airport west part of the city. The 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Division "Das Reich" was deployed near the northeastern suburbs dominated by the industrial facilities. The Russians still holding the massive Tractor Works district were directing accurate artillery fire over the Das Reich's positions. Divisional command designed an assault on the Tractor Works on 15 March. 2nd Battalion from the "Der Führer" Panzergrenadier Regiment infiltrated the southern flank of the Russian position and deployed for the attack near the worker settlements. At that point majority of the Russian troops were facing westwards and the SS attack disrupted their defensive plans. With the first lights of 15 March, Hauptsturmführer Sylvester Stadler's 2nd Battalion launched its attack after a brief artillery preparation. A dozen of panzers and pioneers were supporting the assault. Russian command reacted and shifted troops to support their relatively open southern flank. Remaining armor from the 179th Tank Brigade engaged the German panzers to gain the much needed time for the riflemen. The heavy fighting for the possession of the massive industrial structures was to continue all day.