Army Group South / Heeresgruppe Süd (2)
|On October 10th, 1940, Heeresgruppe A (the predecessor to this second formation of Heeresgruppe Süd) was named Oberbefehlshaber West. It was later disguised as Abschnittstab Winter (also Abschnittstab Silesia/Schlesien) and moved to occupied Poland in the east in preparation for the invasion of the Soviet Union. With the crossing of the Soviet frontier on June 22nd, 1941, Heeresgruppe A was renamed Heeresgruppe Süd.|
Heeresgruppe Süd, operating from the regions of Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and parts of occupied Poland,controlled those units crossing the most southern portion of the Soviet Frontier, stretching from the Black Sea inthe south to Lvov (Lublin) in the north. Heeresgruppe Süd was tasked with quickly occuping the important industrial regions of the Donets Basin and the encirclement of as much of the Red Army in the Ukraine as possible. The left wing of the Heeresgruppe was to direct its main thrust towards Kiev, and then to wheel south along the Dnieper River to seal thefate of hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops. The largely Romanian units that composed the southern tip of the Heeresgruppe (apart from the German 11.Armee) spent the first weeks of the campaign involved in light and mostly defensive combat operations against local Soviet attacks. On July 2nd, 1941, a month after the Germans crossed into the Soviet Union the Romanian contingent of Heeresgruppe Süd occupied the disputed area of Basarabia between the Prut River and the Dnestr River (which the UssR had occupied in 1940), stopping short of actually moving into the Soviet Union proper. On August 3rd, 1941, Romanian units attacked the Soviet Union and moved inland towards Odessa. They later moved, along with the mass of the German forces in the region, into the Crimea, to Rostov and the Kuban, and towards Stalingrad.
Heeresgruppe Süd took part in the frontier battles of Galacia and the Western Ukraine and fought to breakthroughthe southern end of the Stalin Line. The Heeresgruppe fought up to and over many vitally important rivers, including the Dnestr River, Bug River and Dneiper River. The Heeresgruppe directed the battles to take Odessa and the Shores of the Black Sea, Uman, Nikopol, Perekop, Ischun, Kerch, Fedosia and the rest of the Crimea, Kiev, Taganrog, Stalino, Rostov, and many others. The Heeresgruppe ended 1942 fighting winter battles anchored along the Mius River in the south and stretching northwards. Fighting contiuned to rage at Rostov which the Germans had captured in November but were forced to withdraw from due to extreme Soviet pressure. As a result of this withdrawl, von Rundstedt was relieved of command by Hitler on December 1st, 1941, and Gen.FM von Reichnau was put in his place. This move ended von Rundstedt’s Heeresgruppe command which had gone on since before the Polish Campaign and had followed all of the various evolutions of this particular Heeresgruppe. Ironically, Gen.FM von Reichnau died of a heartattack on January 16th, 1942 only 6 weeks after taking command. He was replaced by Gen.FM Fedor von Bock.
January of 1942 brought continued winter fighting for Rostov and the important Don and Donets River crossings.Rostov was also the gate to the Caucasus and the strategically important Don, Donez and Volga River Basin. During the spring of 1942, Heeresgruppe Süd continued the assault into the Crimea, eventually taking Sevestapol and the rest of the Crimea in June. In the north, the 1st Battle of Kharkov took place as well, eventually opening the way for the German summer offensive in July of 1942.
At the start of the summer campaign, Hitler put forth a directive that included two main objectives, the Caucasus region with its vital oilfields near Grozny in the far south, and the industrial and agricultural center of Stalingrad along the Volga River further to the east. To achieve both of these far removed objective, Heeresguppe Süd was divided into two new units, Heeresgruppe A and Heeresgruppe B. They came into operationl readiness on July 7th, 1942, at which time Heeresgruppe Süd once more ceased to exist.
|1941 Jun-Oct 6.Armee, 11.Armee, 17.Armee, Pz.Gruppe 1, various Axis Allied units|
1941 Nov-Dec 1.Pz.Armee, 6.Armee, 11.Armee, 17.Armee, various Axis Allied units
1942 Jan 1.Pz.Armee, 6.Armee, 11.Armee, 17.Armee, various Axis Allied units
1942 Feb-Apr Armeegruppe von Kleist, 2.Armee, 6.Armee, 11.Armee, various Axis Allied units
1942 Jun 1.Pz.Armee, 2.Armee, 6.Armee, 11.Armee, 17.Armee, Armeegruppe von Wietersheim, various Axis Allied units
1942 Jul 1.Pz.Armee, 6.Armee, 11.Armee, Armeegruppe von Weichs, Armeegruppe von Wietersheim, various Axis Allied units
|Gen.FM Gerd von Rundstedt|
Gen.FM Walter von Reichenau
Gen.FM Fedor von Bock