Monday, April 15, 2013

WWII Myths – Crimea evacuation 1944

Books relying on Soviet sources claim that in the fighting in the Crimea in 1944 most of the Axis troops were killed or captured with only a handful escaping.

For example ‘When Titans clashed: how the Red Army stopped Hitler’ by Glantz and House says in page 191 ‘Somewhat less than 40,000 men of Seventeenth Army's original force of 150,000 made it out of the Crimea.
‘World at Arms: A Global History of World War II’ by Gerhard L. Weinberg says in page 671 ‘By mid-May the 120,000 men formally organized as the 17th German Army had been crushed. Only a small proportion was evacuated, there was no long siege as in 1941-42. The Soviet victory was one of the most complete, if least known, of the war.

These statements are not correct. The Germans and Rumanians were able to evacuate 121.000 men by sea and 24.500 by air.
Rumanian website worldwar2.ro has a detailed overview of the naval operations:

The Romanian Royal Navy named the evacuation of Crimea Operation "60,000", because the number of Romanian troops still found in the peninsula was around 62,000 – 65,000 in April 1944. This operation was executed in two phases: the first one between 12 April and 5 May and, the most dramatic, between 6 and 13 May.
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In total during the first phase of the operation, between 14 and 27 April 1944, 73,058 people left Crimea by sea:

  • 20,779 Romanians, of which 2,296 wounded
  • 28,394 Germans, din care 4.995 wounded
  • 723 Slovaks
  • 15,055 Russian volunteers
  • 2,559 POWs
  • 3,748 civilians
Of these about 1,5% died during the crossing. One German tanker and one lighter, representing 8% of the tonnage engaged in the operation, were sunk (about 3,000 tons) and several Romanian transport ships were damaged. One Romanian destroyer and two armed transport pontoons, as well as two German submarine hunters were damaged. On the other side the losses were also important. 12 VVS aircraft were shot down, one submarine and one motor torpedo boat were sunk. Another submarine was seriouslt damaged.

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In this second phase of the evacuation, 47,825 de men were transported by sea to Constanta: 15,078 Romanians, 28,992 Germans and 3.755 Soviets (volunteers, POWs and civilians).About 10,000 men were lost during the crossing , of which some 4,000 were Romanians.
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In total, between 14 April – 13 May 1944, 120,853 men and 22,548 tone of cargo were evacuated by sea from Crimea:

  • 36.557 Romanians, of which 4,262 wounded
  • 58,486 Germans, of which 12,027 wounded
  • 723 Slovaks
  • 15,391 Soviet volunteers
  • 2.581 POWs
  • 7.115 civilians
The Romanian Royal Navy received congratulations from the grand admiral Karl Dönitz, the commander of the Kriegsmarine, and from vice admiral Helmuth Brinkmann, commander of the German forces in the Black Sea, for the way it operated during the evacuation.

In addition to these numbers 21.457 men were evacuated by the Luftwaffe and 3.056 by the Rumanian AF. [Source: ‘Eagle in Flames: The Fall of the Luftwaffe’, p201]
How do we know that the aforementioned statistics are correct? During this period the codebreakers of Bletchley Park were able to follow the military operations in the Crimea by reading messages enciphered on the Enigma machine. The official history ‘British Intelligence in the Second World War’, volume 3 part 1 page 41 says: ‘The evacuation was covered in great detail by Sigint. It was carried out by the Navy and the GAF, the decrypts showing that 121.000 men were taken off by sea and 21.500 by air.

1 comment:

  1. My main problem with Glantz is that while he has put Soviet-era archives to good use, he is not nearly as rigorous with his use of German sources.

    It shows in statements like that.

    ReplyDelete