To the Red Square - Red Victory
To the Red SquareBy Ozgur Budak
14 - 4 - 6
2 MARCH 1943, NEAR DZERZHINSKY SQUARE, KHARKOV: After destroying "Mobile Group Popov" in a brilliant counterattack south of Kharkov, von Manstein turned his eyes to the north and the city itself. Elements of the 4th Panzer Army raced northeast to cut the Kharkov-Belgorod road to trap more Russian units. On March 10, 2nd SS Panzer Korps reached the outskirts of the city. Manstein ordered the SS korps to capture the city of Kharkov. "Totenkopf" was ordered to make an enveloping move from North to cut the escape route to Belgorod. "Das Reich" entered the city from southeast and attempted to capture the eastern industrial district. "Leibstandarte Adolph Hitler" attacked the city from northeast aiming the city center. Early morning 11 March, the Leibstandarte division launched a two-prong attack into northern Kharkov. Kampfgruppe Witt, consisting elements from the 1st SS Panzergrenadier Regiment and 1st SS Panzer Regiment, attacked down the main road from Belgorod and captured Kharkov Airfield. Rybalko's 3rd Tank Army was defending the city center and its' approaches. Fierce Soviet counterattacks were defeated by the SS troopers. On 12 March, Kampfgruppe Witt made progress into the city's center, breaking through the strong Soviet defenses in the northern suburbs and began a house to house fight towards the center. By afternoon, German spearheads reached a position a couple of blocks north of the Dzerzhinsky Square, the city center of Kharkov. Standartenführer Fritz Witt, the commanding officer of the Kampfgruppe ordered a final push to reach the city center without further delay.