Donbass Strategic Offensive (August 1943)

Donbass Strategic Offensive
Part of Eastern Front
Karte - Donezbecken-Operation 1943.png
Map of the Donbass Offensive (in German)
Date13 August 1943 – 22 September 1943
(1 month, 1 week and 2 days)
Result Soviet victory
Soviet Union Soviet Union Nazi Germany Germany
Commanders and leaders
Fyodor Tolbukhin
Rodion Malinovsky
Erich von Manstein
Karl-Adolf Hollidt
Eberhard von Mackensen
Units involved
Southern Front
Southwestern Front

Army Group South

6th Army
1st Panzer Army
1,053,000 men[1]
1,257 tanks and assault guns[1]
21,000 guns and mortars[1]
1,400 combat aircraft[1]
Around 400,000 men
Casualties and losses

273,522 men[1]

66,166 killed, captured or missing
207,356 wounded or sick
886 tanks and assault guns destroyed[1]
814 guns and mortars[1]
327 aircraft[1]

28,940 men (German claim) (11 August – 20 September)[2]

4,721 killed
21,234 wounded
2,985 missing

The Donbass Strategic Offensive was a strategic operation of the Red Army on the Eastern Front of World War II with the goal of the liberation the Donbass.

The course of the operation[edit]

The Donbass operation began on August 13, 1943 with the offensive of the right wing of the Southwestern Front. These troops forced the Donets river and advancing along the right bank of the river, helped the Steppe Front with the liberation of Kharkiv.

On August 16, the Southern Front troops went on the offensive and broke through the German defense on the Mius River. On August 30, Taganrog was liberated in combination with a naval operation. The XXIX Army Corps was encircled but succeeded to break out, be it with heavy casualties.

As Army Group South was threatened with dismemberment and destruction, Hitler finally allowed Manstein to withdraw across the Dnieper on 15 September.

On September 1, German troops had already begun to retreat on the entire front in the Donbass. On September 5, 1943, Soviet troops liberated Horlivka and Artemivsk, and on September 8, the capital of Donbass, Stalino (now Donetsk).

During the withdrawal, Manstein ordered scorched earth actions, and Soviet partisans hampered the retreating German Army.

Pursuing the enemy, the troops of the South-Western Front on September 22 chased the Germans behind the Dnieper at Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia, while troops of the Southern Front on the same day reached the Molochna River. This ended the Donbass operation.[3]


As a result of the Soviet victory, the German Army had been forced to fall back more than 300 kilometer on the Panther–Wotan line along the Dnieper, which was still under construction.

Furthermore, the contribution of the important economic region no longer benefited Nazi Germany, and by 1944 the Soviet Union had restarted its industrial operations in the region. As a byproduct of the Soviet offensive, the German forces was also forced to retreat from the Kuban Bridgehead, as the Soviets advanced towards the Perekop Isthmus, which fell into their hands in November 1943.

Postwar assessment[edit]

In 1949, Erich von Manstein was tried for war crimes in the Ukraine, found guilty on 9 of 17 charges, and sentenced to 18 years in prison, but later released in 1953 due to health problems and support of Konrad Adenauer, Winston Churchill, and others.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Frieser et al. 2007, p. 351.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 May 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Erich von Manstein: Verlorene Siege. Bernard & Graefe Verlag für Wehrwesen, München 1976, ISBN 3-7637-5051-7.
  4. ^ Melvin, Mungo (2010). Manstein: Hitler's Greatest General. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-84561-4.