The 3rd Battle of Kharkov was the last major German victory of World War II. I needed a brief timeline as background for my Kharkov 3 Crossfire Scenario.
In March 1943 Hausser’s SS Panzerkorps was given the task of retaking the city. By this stage of the war Hausser’s men were hardened veterans, and his Panzerkorps consisted of:
1. SS-Panzer-Division “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler”
2. SS-Panzer-Division “Das Reich”
3. SS-Panzer-Division “Totenkopf”
Rybalko’s Soviet 3rd Tank Army were waiting for them, with the 1st and 2nd Guards Tank Corps and the 48th, 104th, 305th and 307th Rifle Divisions inside the city.
The German assault troops were formed into Kampfgruppes and each was given a road to attack down. SS Das Reich attacked from the west (Kampfgruppe Harmel) and SS Leibstandarte from the north (Kampfgruppes Krass, Sandig, Hansen, Witt, Meyer), while SS Totenkopf screened the Northwest.
Four days of bitter house to house fighting ensued. As the days progressed the German force broke into smaller company sized groups, each supported by a few Panzers. Soviet machine-guns and anti-tank gun were everywhere and in every lane and courtyard a tank lay in wait. Each block had to be cleared building by building with artillery sweeping the bridges and approaches.
Hausser’s SS Panzerkorps retook the city of Kharkov after fierce fighting, however, the Third Battle of Kharkov left the city only temporarily in Axis hands. The Germans were soon driven out once again (4th Battle of Kharkov) – this time for good.
This scenario represents the typical house to house fighting that went on. All the attacking forces encountered situations like this, but nominally the scenario follows Kampfgruppe Witt’s approach to Dzerzhinsky Square in the centre of the city on 12 March.
Knocked out Soviet Tanks