Battleground Kiev-Zhitomir (4.Panzerarmee)

Leibstandarte SS Tigers in Ukraine 
Leibstandarte SS panzergrenadiers during the Rasputitsa  
The Soviets launched a massive offensive to seize Kiev (Ukraine) on early November 1943. Soviet tank tactics continued to be unimaginative, allowing small groups of 1.SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte and Kampfgruppe Das Reich (2.SS-Panzer-Division Das Reich) panzers to defeat numerically superior forces. When the Soviet Red Army finally at a high cost in casualties broke through southwest of Kiev during December 1943 it pushed the 4.Panzer-Armee back over 160 km, leaving the 8.Armee´s right flank dangerously exposed, it was the only German formation with a foothold on the southern banks of River Dnieper. Though the Soviets had failed to break the rail link with Army Group Center or envelop Army Group South, they had broken the Dniepr line, and inflicted massive casualties on the 4.Panzer-Armee. The Germans, for their part, had destroyed several sizable Soviet formations and kept the vital rail link open. But there was to be no rest. The Soviets launched their winter offensive on Christmas eve. The Leibstandarte SS Division's manpower strength was 19,867 men and Das Reich Division's manpower strength was 14,095 men in December 1943. Top image: Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger of 13.(schwere) Kompanie of SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 of the 1.SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte. Photo taken in Ukraine in November 1943. Commons: Bundesarchiv. Bottom image: Leibstandarte SS panzergrenadiers struggle with the mud on the Eastern front during the Rasputitsa – the season without roads  in November 1943. Commons: Bundesarchiv.

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