By Robert Forczyk
The combating round the city of Demyansk used to be one of many longest encirclement battles at the japanese entrance in the course of the moment international struggle, stretching from February 1942 to February 1943. initially, the German sixteen. Armee occupied Demyansk within the fall of 1941 since it used to be key terrain - a crossroads situated on excessive flooring amidst a sea of swampy terrain - that might be used as a springboard for an eventual offensive into the Valdai Hills. as a substitute, the Soviet iciness counteroffensive in February 1942 encircled the German II Armeekorps and different devices, totalling approximately 100,000 troops, contained in the Demyansk Pocket. one other pocket was once additionally created round Kholm, with one other 5,000 Germans within. but regardless of serious pounding from 5 Soviet armies, the embattled German troops held the pocket and the Luftwaffe geared up an important aerial resupply attempt to maintain the defenders. For the 1st time in army historical past, a military was once provided solely through air.
After preventing the Soviet iciness counteroffensive, the German sixteen. Armee fixed significant reduction efforts to rescue their trapped forces within the Demyansk and Kholm wallet, which have been eventually relieved in April-May 1942. in the course of the siege, the crack three. SS-Division 'Totenkopf' was once nearly destroyed, agony eighty in line with cent casualties. in spite of the fact that, Hitler demanded that the 12 divisions of II Armeekorps stay within the slim Demyansk salient, whose base was once in basic terms 6km large. in the course of the summer season and autumn of 1942, the Soviets pounded the salient from both sides, causing heavy casualties at the defenders. In February 1943, Marshal Timoshenko used to be ordered to release an offensive to chop off the bottom of the salient and annihilate the 12 divisions. even as, Hitler eventually got here to his senses after the Stalingrad debacle and licensed the sixteen. Armee to withdraw from the pocket. hence, the Germans started to withdraw simply as Timoshenko opened his grand offensive to chop them off and damage virtually 100,000 German troops. This quantity will finish with the drama of a German army-size withdrawal below fireplace in iciness, less than assault from 3 sides.