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…

Peter Winn-Brown
20 min readAug 15, 2023
German infantry man a small artillery piece to shell buildings on the outskirts of Sevastopol.
German infantry shell buildings on the outskirts of Sevastopol. Image from WarfareHistoryNetwork.

“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, I come before you, cap in hand, my apology uppermost, in the hope you understand my dilemma and will partake of my Russian saga nonetheless.

War is never pretty. A regime or nation may win a battle, or even a war, but on the ground there are never truly winners. Everyone involved loses something, be that a limb or limbs, a relative, a loved one, or one’s freedom, humanity or sanity. In writing about battles and the tragedy of the ensuing carnage I always try to remember the human element. I might quote numbers of lives lost, but I can never state such numbers without stopping and thinking about what those numbers truly mean.

I hope some of you can find the time to take a look and also consider the immense sacrifices made by men on both sides, and what such sacrifices might mean in the context of your own lives.

As a tragic war of choice rages once again in the very same region, it behoves us all to think about what war truly means to those caught up in its firestorm, and to realise that things can degenerate into chaos so easily when nations fall under the spell of a demagogic, racist, megalomaniac.

Democracy is fragile, and in the wrong hands it can be wrenched away in the name of something else that can often ring just as familiar.

Joseph Goebells, first a fan, then a colleague, and in the end Hitler’s propaganda tsar, noted, after having seen Hitler speak for the first time that, “…his words and opinions were all uttered with authoritarian certainty, as if they were undeniable facts.”

Later Goebells ran Hitler’s campaign of misinformation and mass control under the dictum that, “…in the big lie there is always a power of believe-ability. The broad masses of a population are always easily corrupted. In the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victim to the big lie than the small lie.

Human nature doesn’t change; only times do. What was true then, remains true now.

The following story is heroic, but it is far more tragic and ghoulish than it is heroic, and it came about as a consequence of the paranoid fantasies of one twisted mind, and how those fantasies became imprinted onto the minds of the masses as an undeniable truth.

Truth is not what one man says it is; truth is based on fact, and when facts become worthless tragedy is only ever another lie and a misstep away. As America inches its way forward to another election cycle the value of truth is once again being questioned in the West.

And this story is just one bloody rung on a ladder of lies now past, and to think that we cannot end up there again is to invite the devil in to eat at the family table, and hope against hope that we can remain untouched by his febrile presence…

Now to Crimea…and after the battle of Kerch, Erich von Manstein’s men turn their attention south…Sevastopol awaits!

Breaking the fortress city of Sevastopol; the 3rd assault, June 2nd — 4th July 1942 — Operation Storfang (Sturgeon Catch).

The softening up begins…2nd-6th June

The last week of May was something of a hiatus for Generaloberst Erich von Manstein’s, Commander of the 11th Army, and his hard worked troops. Most wound their way back South from the hard fought battle at Kerch towards Sevastopol in preparation for the next grand battle; Sevastopol.

The Soviet Black Sea Fleet, under the command of Vice-Admiral Filip. S. Oktyabrsky, who was in overall command of the defence of the Sevastopol, had continued to ferry in defenders throughout the siege — which had been underway since the last day of October 1941 — but the replacements were often poorly equipped, with little in the way of ammunition and carrying basic basic supplies at best, with the Stavka — the Russian High Command — only requiring Sevastopol to hold out for a much larger Soviet counteroffensive to be delivered to the North.

The Soviets had organised what they considered to be an impressive defensive anti-aircraft umbrella for the city that, in theory, should have provided more than adequate cover, but as May 1942 ended the Luftwaffe were starting to come into its own. A huge increase in reconnaissance flights throughout May had identified and logged the positions of the major Soviet anti-aircraft batteries, which were then systematically taken out by the increased density of German bombers and long range artillery.

As June arrived that umbrella had been shredded and the Germans had almost complete freedom of the skies on the approach to the city, if not always over the city itself. The effectiveness of the Soviet batteries had been shown to be sham, with a miserly total of 7 German aircraft shot down at a firing rate of between 3–4,000 shells per aircraft (3).

Even so, von Manstein, well aware how difficult it would still be to take the city, had prepared for a sustained artillery offensive to weaken and soften up the remaining defences, ahead of any manned advances. At Hitler’s insistence, von Manstein brought in the ‘celebrity’ big guns, including the biggest gun ever made, the 800mm railway gun ‘Dora,’ which required no less than 500 men to operate it, and could launch shells weighing an immense 7 tons over distances of tens of kilometres, and the two 600mm Karl mortars, ‘Odin’ and ‘Thor.’

Designed to smash heavily fortified concrete batteries like those skirting Sevastopol, Dora was more effective as a celebrity than it was as a weapon. Dora suffered from hopelessly poor accuracy, its greatest effect perhaps having been on the shaken morale of the besieged Russians who must have wondered where on earth the next shell might rattle the ground (4).

In spite of the arrival of the big guns, the Stavka had probably underestimated the strength of the German resolve to take the city, and over estimated the effectiveness of Sevastopol’s defences. Hitler backed von Manstein with firepower hitherto unseen in WWII. A Czech battery with a 420mm guns, Czech and German 210mm mortars, a mass of 355mm mortars, two battalions of 305mm guns, French made 194mm self-propelled guns and an old Krupps 420mm howitzer brought out of retirement from WWI (5).

Soviet intelligence and reconnaissance was once again severely lacking, as it had been prior to the earlier assaults. The arrival of Dora and the massive earthworks that ensued, as the German engineers excavated the firing positions of the Odin and Thor, all went unseen. Discounting anti-aircraft guns, von Manstein had an impressive total of 208 batteries jammed into a 35kms front (5).

Black & white image of the largest gun ever made; Dora, the railway gun.
The largest gun ever made; the 800mm railway gun Dora was brought all the way from the Krups factory in Essen to pound the forts of Crimea. But it proved largely ineffective and hugely inaccurate and was quickly retired, sent back to Germany and was never fired again.

Soviet reconnaissance aircraft did however spot the arrival of German two troop trains, the subsequent armoured column heavily was battered by re-purposed anti-aircraft fire as it made its way to the front causing a large number of German casualties (3).

Further hampering potential Soviet defences efforts was a lack of anti-tank weapons, with many smaller anti-aircraft batteries now ordered to re-direct their fire to counter the marauding Panzer brigades.

Starting on June 2nd the German batteries opened up, slowly at first, but gathering pace through the first day using a relatively low total of 362 tons of ammunition. Targeting mainly the bunker installations and major forts, particularly those within the heavily defended Sector 4 (Figure 1.), it is thought the effect on Soviet fortifications on day one was minimal.

The Luftwaffe also began operations, themselves dropping a total of 570 tons of bombs mostly on Soviet reserve positions, the port and known artillery positions. However, their effectiveness was limited by the last vestiges of the VVS (Voyenno-vozdushnyye sily) — The Red Air Force — who managed to harry the German aircraft all day from three small airfields South of Sevastopol on or near to Cape Chersonese (Figure 1.), and even managed to protect the best part of a flotilla of ships that arrived delivering more supplies, ammunition and another 2,785 defenders (3).

In response to the bombardment, the Soviet artillery did little. Aware the Germans had observational units working closely with their artillery battalions; they did not wish to give away their positions this early on if at all possible, preferring to hold fire for the expected infantry assault, which in the end was probably a good thing since nearly all anti-aircraft shells had been expended by then.

Despite occasional successes, like the one mentioned above, the rate of Soviet anti-aircraft fire was terribly inefficient, bringing down just one German aircraft for every 3–4000 shells fired. The Germans ended up flying missions with the sole aim of depleting Soviet anti-aircraft ammunition, and did such a good job that by June 2nd only 3,000 85mm shells remained, barely enough to sustain adequate fire for a single half-day (5).

The massive 600mm Karl mortars, were also brought into play (Figure 1.) and proved to be little more effective in the end than the rather wayward Dora, which fired a grand total of 25 rounds, missing its target by an average of 300m, with the closest shell coming within 80m of the target, Fort Molotov, just South of the Belbek ridge in defensive sector 4 (3).

In the end Dora was sent back to the Krupps factory in Essen in shame, and was never fired again (3).

The softening up bombardment was to last four more days, each successive day seeing a greater tonnage of ammunition spent. And despite the significant expenditure in aerial and air defences, by the end of the first week of June the Germans had almost complete mastery of the skies over the beleaguered city (5).

Figure 1. The German 3rd assault. Positions of the major German mortar and artillery emplacements, including those of the 600mm Karl mortars, Odin & Thor. Adapted from Sevastopol 1942 (4).

X-Day, 7th June…

The lack of clear Soviet intelligence on the number and range of German guns led General-Major Ivan Petrov, commander of the Soviet Coastal Army and Oktyabrsky’s right hand, to write, under a huge misapprehension on the numbers of German guns that, “The Germans may have an advantage in tanks and aircraft. Manpower is equal. Artillery strength was on the Soviet side in the amount of guns and in fire organisation (5).

He did however correctly surmise that attacks, when they would come, would happen in all 4 defensive sectors simultaneously, but von Manstein lacked the manpower to push home the advantage equally in each sector following the initial bombardment and had thus, concentrated the bulk of his forces to the North of the city as per the 2nd assault the previous December.

His personnel resources stretched to breaking point, von Manstein somehow did manage to engineer attacks to the central and Southern regions as well as the North, as Petrov had suspected, as much to prevent the Soviets from concentrating their firepower on a single German ground assault rather than with any realistic hope of breaking through other than in sector 4 (Figure 1.).

And yet, such was the German morale and confidence that many thought the battle would be over in a matter of days. “On the 15th June we’ll be drinking champagne in the Grafsky! (5)” one boasted, plainly ignorant of the massive and well prepared defences of the city.

On June 7th 1942 at 03.15am began a massive one hour long ‘destruction’ bombardment aimed at ridge-tops and high ground where the Soviets were known, or suspected to be well dug in, as well as against all major fortifications. Soviet front line trenches were hit with a constant barrage of small mortar and artillery fire, and unlike other days, this bombardment continued at maximum rates of fire, not pausing as normal to assess the damage done.

Figure 2. Map of the main towns, ridges and high ground that needed to be negotiated & taken by von Manstein’s forces.
Figure 2. Main towns, ridges and high ground that needed to be negotiated & taken by von Manstein’s forces. Adapted from Sevastopol 1942 (4).

The main push, once again fell to General de Kavallerie Erik Hansen’s LIV Korps who ordered his men “…to carry on (their) attack regardless of (their) neighbour and not to stop as long as (they) could still move forward (5).”

The LIV Korps moved forward from the North-East with the initial aim of capturing the mountains around Mekensia and the high ground behind Gatani (Figure 2.) from where attacks could launched across the valley at the Sapun Ridge.

Further South, General der Artillerie Maximilian Fretter-Pico’s XXX Korps were to advance in line towards the Sapun Ridge, tying up Soviet forces and preventing them from reinforcing positions to the North, and along the way to pick up high spots such as Chapel Hill, North Rose and Kamary in the region in front of the ridge.

Further South still the Romanians were to also tie up the Soviets, protect Fretter-Pico’s left flank and prevent Soviet counter-fire coming across from the heights of Balaklava by drawing their ire onto themselves.

Along the coastline North of Sevastopol various infantry regiments moved in to attack Belbek, the ridge above the town, whilst others moved down the Belbek valley and a ravine that intersected it at Kamyschly (Figure 2.).

Convinced that the sustained artillery bombardment would have seriously demoralised the Soviet defenders, the Germans advanced in densely packed formations only to find themselves quickly pinned down by Soviet artillery fire (5).

The German advance faltered, and the Soviets were once again subjected to an earth shattering bombardment from the air and from artillery positions. So dense was the bombardment it turned daytime into night, and as the intensity dropped the Germans renewed their advance once again, this time more cautiously and with the added support of StuG III armoured fighting vehicles.

Advancing German troops hitch a ride on an StuG III somewhere near Sevastopol
Advancing German troops hitch a ride on an StuG III somewhere near Sevastopol.

A blistering Soviet barrage was fired at the advancing StuG III’s, slowing them down but not stopping the German advance. At places in the Belbek valley the Germans advanced far enough to drop grenades into Soviet trenches, engaging in vicious hand to hand fighting, but the valiant defenders eventually threw the Germans back once again (5).

Further down the Belbek valley, the German vehicles were getting bogged down by the river and the marshy ground close by, which was heavily mined and took a heavy toll on the advancing infantry. Casualties were heavy on both sides, especially around Kamyschly where several oxbow lakes slowed down German Assault Gun battalions under a withering, forceful attack from Soviet artillery positions.

Nevertheless, the Germans made slow, but steady progress, machine gun platoons advancing to the plateau above the Belbek ridge where they overran Soviet trenches and artillery positions. A few defenders survived the onslaught and retreated ahead of German infantry units that were following up.

As the advance continued Soviet artillery positions, often manned by heavily wounded men, fired point blank at the Germans, but still failed to stem the onslaught as the Germans marched on (5).

By mid-afternoon the Germans had taken control of more than a square kilometre of Soviet defences around the Belbek valley, with different units starting to link up and complete an encirclement of what Soviet positions still remained. They cut Soviet telephone lines from the front, forcing the defenders to resort to personal observation and messaging to chart the German advances which led to long delays in communications with Petrov in the Soviet command post.

Oktyabrsky ordered Petrov to stop the German advances at any costs.

Petrov sent Colonel Potapov, commander of the Soviet 79th Naval Infantry Brigade, to push the Germans back off the high ground, and despite overwhelming odds he did just that, managing to force a retreat from all but the lower slopes of the ridges. But in the valley itself, fresh German reserves secured most of the advances, the only remaining Soviet stronghold now, a Tomato Plant, where a few brave men continued to resist.

One of the many large calibre weapons brought in by von Manstein to soften up the massive fortifications deep within the city fortress of Sevastopol
One of the many large calibre weapons brought in by von Manstein to soften up the massive fortifications deep within the city fortress of Sevastopol. Image from Warfarehistorynetwork.

8th-12th June 1942.

In the early hours of the morning, shrouded in darkness, the Soviet transport, Georgia, and its destroyer escort delivered 750 troop replacements, 233 tons of ammunition and 227 tons of food. It then managed to evacuate more than 1400 wounded soldiers and civilians, achieving all this before 6am in the morning, when it departed (5).

As daylight broke across peninsula German troops moved to surround the remaining Soviet troops around Kamyshly and the flat ground between the Kamyshly ravine and the village of Mekensia (Figure 2.). But the Soviets were well dug in, the road to Kamyshly protected by dozens of machine gun nests that sat atop and around three small hills. Behind the hills a wooded area with large anti-tank ditch protected the village.

As the Germans came down through the ravine valley, Petrov ordered a Soviet counter-attack despite overwhelming odds estimated at 7 to 1 in favour of the Germans.

As the counter-attack began, the Germans opened with a huge bombardment of the remaining Soviet positions on the Kamyshly ridge and the nearby Belbek valley. At 9am, Soviet reserves, including an obsolete WWI era T-26 tank company, arrived to bolster the counter-attack, but it was already too late.

The reserves waded in regardless, and managed to briefly engage the Germans in hand-to-hand combat, before being pushed back again. The T-26’s, under heavy artillery fire were withdrawn and provided no support for the hard pushed Soviet troops whatsoever.

After a short pause, the Luftwaffe attacked the retreating Soviet lines as German troops, sustaining heavy losses, moved through the valleys of Kamyshly and Belbek. Some of heaviest damage inflicted on the Germans was by groups of retreating Soviet who came together in pincers to catch small groups of the chasing Germans out.

But there were too few Soviets and too many Germans. Soviet losses were huge, and by the end of the day many Soviet units were wiped out in their entirety, as the villages thereabouts were overrun.

Elsewhere, the Germans continued to attack the beleaguered Tomato Plant. In a ferocious two day battle, the Germans sustained heavy losses, but the result was always a forgone conclusion. In the end just three Soviet defenders survived to retreat and fight again (5).

A fierce battle of attrition continued throughout the day. The Germans continued to push hard to gain an advantage, but by the end of the day, and despite Hansen’s LIV Korps alone sustaining more than 1700 casualties, the Soviets held on to the train station in Mekensia, as well as at least two well fortified positions adjacent to the station, including one called the Forsthaus (4).

They had however, broken through the outer ring of the Soviet defences in several places in defensive sectors 3 and 4 (Figure 1.) creating a bulge 5 kms long and 3 kms deep. Petrov’s men were fighting valiantly, but suffered from poor communications and an inability to feed in reserves during daylight due to the constant threat from the Luftwaffe.

The next day slow, but relentless progress was made by the Germans; perhaps the most significant Soviet loss in sector 4 being the train station at Mekensia (4).

The Germans also took the remaining defensive positions around the train station allowing a further advance, skirting the northern parts of the city onto the ridge-tops from where the Germans looked down on the coast some 5–7 kms (3–4 miles) away in preparation for an attack on the main coastal batteries, including the prodigiously, massive Fort Maxim Gorky (position marked approximately by the fort {red dot} next to the town of Belbek in Figure 1.) (4).

The last two days had seen the LIV Korps sustain another 2,772 casualties, but that number paled next to the near 9,000 suffered by the Soviets.

The Soviets also lost the transport ship Abkhazia, which was sunk in the port of Sevastopol after several direct hits from dive bombing Stukas.

This was a great loss for Oktyabrsky and the defenders. Not only was it the loss of the ship, but this would also seriously hamper further transport ships later on — the two main unloading docks were now unusable due to sunken vessels — but, worst of all, the Abkhazia was sunk with almost her full payload of ammunition. The defenders were running woefully short, especially of larger anti-aircraft and artillery shells (5).

Petrov, aware things were going badly against him, hatched a daring plan to cut off the German troops at the head of the bulge they had created. During the night of the 11th he sent troops from three units up the coast to the northside of their defences in a barge. They landed and made their way, under cover of darkness to as close as possible to the Germans at the head of the bulge.

At 8am the Soviets unleashed their largest artillery barrage yet against the advanced German positions, before the counter-attack was commenced. The fighting was intense and raged to and fro, but the Soviets were hugely outnumbered. At one point they came close to reaching the Forsthaus once again before being beaten back, but were unable to sustain the attack.

As the Germans themselves launched a counter-attack, ably supported by ground attack aircraft who dropped anti-personnel ordinance and strafed the retreating Soviets repeatedly with gunfire, the Soviets, having sustained heavy losses, broke and ran.

In sector 3 another Soviet counter-attack was also underway. They had advanced at one point to within a 100m of the German lines, but again heavy losses and a lack of firepower saw the attack pushed back after about two hours of heavy fighting.

The Germans in sector 4 continued to advance in the wake of the retreating Soviets making their all the way to the bottom of the hill on top of which sat Fort Stalin, the first of the main defensive batteries to be surrounded.

In the South, in sector 1, the Germans had made some progress against the less well defended Soviet line. Fretter-Pico’s Romanian troops had broken through the Soviet line in places and had succeeded in taking the old Redoubt no.1, now called Fort Kruppe, that had overseen the famous charge of the light brigade in 1854. The Soviets however, still held most of the high ground as well as substantial defences along the Sapun Ridge (Figure 2.).

Sevastopol civilians working through the night in dimly tunnel, making shells, & repairing damaged equipment.
Amazing picture of Sevastopol civilians working through the night, making shells, repairing damaged equipment & doing whatever is needed to support the war effort. Image from Warfarehistorynetwork.

13th-16th June 1942

Von Manstein needed to reach the northern edge of Severnaya Bay in order to directly threaten the city of Sevastopol itself. Standing in his way was Fort Stalin and, on the hill next to it, Fort Volga.

The terrain around Fort Stalin was well protected with concrete machine gun bunkers, a network of well prepared earth and timber bunkers, all connected by covered tunnels allowing the defenders to move around, even under artillery fire, and all this lay inside a thick, barbed wire defensive perimeter. However, the vast majority of the defences faced south and east, leaving the more precipitous northern approach more vulnerable. Terrain alone was never going to hold the Germans back, and so it was here the first attack was launched.

The Fort itself was actually a reinforced concrete anti-aircraft battery, and was staffed by about 200 troops, including the flak regiment that manned 4 x 76.2mm anti-aircraft guns atop the fort, while the ground thereabouts was heavily pockmarked with huge craters made by the wayward, but shame-faced Dora.

The man chosen to lead the attack on Fort Stalin for the Germans was Oberst Dietrich von Choltitz, who after rapid promotion, later became the man who ‘saved Paris’ as the allies advanced from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1944.

Von Choltitz’s unit had been lightly used thus far, and was therefore relatively fresh and had the added bonus of Stukas having taken out three of the four 76.2mm guns in an attack on the evening of the 12th.

Both Fort Volga and Stalin were pounded by 210mm mortar rounds prior to the attack, as well sporadic bursts from the 280mm and 305mm mortars, but apparently with little effect.

Von Choltitz, perhaps unwisely, sent his men on a daring night raid up the steep north facing slope at 3am, but they were soon spotted and came under heavy mortar fire from Soviet positions in a nearby ravine, pushing the Germans westward across, rather than up the slope, where they quickly came into contact with their own reserve units that were supposed to be behind them. In the darkness under heavy fire, the organised attack had quickly unravelled.

But they pressed on regardless, an hour later finally making it inside the barbed wire perimeter, but at heavy cost — all four company commanders were lost.

Once inside the perimeter each bunker had to be cleared individually, slowing progress down again, until finally a Panzer was able to be brought up and took out the remaining bunkers from behind their defences at almost point blank range (4).

A few Soviets surrendered, but the majority fought bravely to the death. As the fighting slowed down and the sun came up, the Germans became visible to the guns of Fort Volga some 400m or so south-west of Stalin. They opened up along with heavier artillery from the adjacent ravine once it became clear to the Soviets the fort was lost.

However, by 7am the Germans called Fort Stalin as theirs, but they had lost all four company commanders, the battalion commander, and had had 32 killed and 136 wounded. Of the Soviets only 20 were captured, with the rest, including the 200 men inside the fort, being presumed dead (4).

The next few days saw further German advances towards the coast, but it was hard going. Limited manpower had always been von Manstein’s Achilles heel, and on the coast itself a very sparse force had been left to contain the garrison at Belbek village. Petrov took full advantage and used the overlap of retreating troops to launch repeated counter-attacks at the Germans as they began to clear the valley of enemy forces.

These did not hold back the advance for long but increased von Manstein’s losses greatly, forcing him to bring in ‘fresh’ reserves, who were in fact anything but fresh, immediately after they had arrived from operations in Kerch (4).

In the South Fretter-Pico continued to make steady progress, pushing Soviet units back from part of the southern coastline to a small village north of Balaklava (Figure 2). They also continued to push through the gaps created in the Soviet defensive lines, widening them significantly. The Soviet line was creaking, and by the 18th the Germans had moved to take several hills on the southern approaches to the Sapun Ridge (Figure 2.).

The Soviets though still had substantial defences on the ridge as well as further batteries along the coast, west of Balaklava in the region of Cape Fiolent (Figure 2.), but they were all under severe pressure by now.

That’s all we’ve got time for today folks! Tomorrow, the final dramatic part and the fall of Sevastopol. The references from today’s post will be included in tomorrows post.

Thanks for reading.



Peter Winn-Brown

The past can illuminate the present if we shine the light of inquiry openly, truthfully, with attention to detail & care for the salient facts.