The History of Crimean Conflicts: Sevastopol, von Manstein’s Triumph & Hitler’s Last Great Victory, Part II.
Under the command of Generaloberst Erich von Manstein, Hitler’s armies prepared for what would be the final assault on the great fortress city of Sevastopol, belief in their destiny as humanity’s superior race meant ultimate victory was their due. What neither he, nor Hitler knew, was that this would be the Nazis last great victorious battle…
“At some point we reached the suburbs of a city and the further we went, the greater the destruction. I have never seen such chaos in my life. No stone was left un-turned. Sevastopol was completely destroyed, only smoking ruins, almost apocalyptic. I was horrified. I think that’s when I got scared for the first time.”
Sergeant Albert Wittenberg, on his journey South from Germany, to join up with the 50th Army as a replacement, following von Manstein’s great victory (1).
But first, an apology…for the saga that telling this story has become. I had quite thought at the outset I could squeeze the tale of this epic battle into one post. That very quickly ballooned into several very long posts, and the final part covering the fall of the city, is full of so much drama, tragedy and worthwhile detail that it ended up being more than a 40 minute read…which even by my standards is something of an epic! I have thus, decided to split it yet again…the first part today, and the final part, with a few words on the legacy tomorrow.
I write for the most part, about what interests me, and judging from my stats of late, I would guess the minutiae of military history is not a hugely popular subject area. That said, this tale is indeed an epic one, full of everything that characterises the best and the very worst of humanity, and so much gut wrenching detail that I couldn’t in all good conscience leave quite so much unsaid. It soon became very clear that a quick skip through the chaos would not cut the mustard.
And yet even then, there is still much more left out than I have been able to cram in. So…