In the aftermath of Stalingrad the Red Army mounted a dramatic thrust westwards. They faced weak and depleted German units, exhausted from the struggles of 1942, cobbled together into ‘battle groups’ bolstered with rear-line troops and Luftwaffe units forced to fight as infantry. The Soviet advance reached nearly 500 miles. At the beginning of March, they were headed for the Dniepr River, where they might achieve a great encirclement of the Wehrmacht - a potential knock-out blow.
But the Red Army was becoming over-extended in its rapid advance whilst the Wehrmacht was falling back onto its supply lines. Then II SS Panzer Corps arrived in Russia, a fresh and potent force. And General von Manstein took charge.
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