April 6, 2015

1943. The Red Army's Massive Winter Offensive Ends

The Eastern Front in April 1943
"Soviet gains (shown in blue) during Operation Little Saturn" (source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

April 3, 1943

The Red Army's winter offensive has officially ended. Last night's special communiqué (from the Soviet night command) announced that the Russian winter drive was completed on March 31.

There can be no doubt that this winter offensive was one of the greatest military campaigns in history. In just 141 days (of some of the bloodiest fighting that the world has ever witnessed), the Germans lost over 1,193,000 men in killed and captured. That's about the total population of the state of West Virginia.

And during this four months and twenty days of fighting, the Red Army captured an area the size of New England with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and about one-fourth of Ohio thrown in for good measure. That's an area just a little smaller than France. It's an area bigger than all of Italy.

The Russian newspapers this morning print an official map of the Russian front as it now stands at the end of the winter offensive. (It's the first complete map of the Russian battle line printed since the war began, and) it is extremely important. The map reveals a lot of new facts which we never knew before, and definitively shows the line on which this summer's fighting will occur.

It's hard to describe a map the size of Russia without being able to lay one down in front of you and point definitely to the places concerned, but I'll try to give you the important developments shown in this official map as clearly and briefly as possible.

(We'll start in the south. As we knew before, the Russians have created a sack in the Kuban only some seventy miles deep from the Kerch Strait. This is presently the most active sector of the front. The fighting here is increasing as the roads begin to dry.)

On the sector west of Rostov, the map shows the Red Army only about twelve miles from Taganrog. According to the map, the Russians still hold about one-third of the Donbass despite the tremendous Nazi counteroffensive to drive them completely out of it.

On the middle reaches of the Donets River, the Red Army holds the entire left bank of the river up to Belgorod, which is north of Kharkov. You remember the town of Chuguyev, where such bitter fighting has occurred the past few weeks, was on the right bank of the river.

In the Kursk region further north, the map shows a great bulge in the German line that sticks out like a nose. However, the German counteroffensive in this sector succeeded in pushing the Red Army back from Suma and Sevsk, which the Russians once had.

The Kursk bulge recedes as it runs northward to an arc about thirty-five miles around the town of Orel, which the Germans still hold.

The battle line then heads northwestward in the direction of Smolensk. Here the Red Army is only fifty miles away. As the line continues northward, it shows the Russian forces almost on the outskirts of Staraya Russa, just south of Lake Ilmen. This is the first indication that the Russians were that close to the town.

The situation in Leningrad as shown on the map revealed no substantial progress on this front since the arc around the city was broken last January.