Caucasia - Army
Group A Hitler's
Army Group A was
composed of the 1st Panzer Army, von Kleist, ( 3 panzer, 2
motorised infantry, 7 German and 4 Roumanian infantry divisions
) and Group
Ruoff made up of 17th Army, under Ruoff ( 1 panzer, one
6 German and 4 Roumanian infantry divisions ) and 8th
Italian Army, under
Gariboldi ( 6 divisions).
The German plan
to launched another great summer offensive crystallized
in the early months of 1942. Hitler's decision was influenced by
economists, who mistakenly told him that Germany could not
the war unless it obtained petroleum supplies from the Caucasus.
was the more responsive to such arguments because they coincided
his belief that another German offensive would so drain the
Union's manpower that the U.S.S.R. would be unable to continue
war. His thinking was shared by his generals, who had been awed
prodigality with which the Soviets squandered their troops in
of 1941 and the spring of 1942.
of directive #45 :
of Army Group A is to encircle enemy forces which have escaped
across the Don in the area south and southeast of Rostov, and
to destroy them.
For this purpose strong fast-moving forces are to move from
which will be established in the
Konstantinovskaia-Tsymlyanskaya area, in a
general southwesterly direction towards Tikhoretsk. Infantry,
light infantry, and
mountain divisions, will cross the Don in the Rostov area.
the task of cutting the Tikhoretsk-Stalingrad railway line
advanced spearheads remains unchanged.
formations of Army Group A (including 24th Panzer Division) will
come under command of Army Group B for further
Infantry division Grossdeutschland is not to advance beyond
the Manych sector.
Preparations will be made to move it to the west.
destruction of enemy forces south of the Don, the most
task of Army Group A will be to occupy the ; entire eastern
coastline of the Black
Sea, thereby eliminating the Black Sea ports and the enemy
Black Sea fleet.
For this purpose the formations of 11th Army already
Mountain Corps) will be brought across the Kerch Straits as
soon as the advance
of the main body of Army Group A becomes effective, and will
southeast along the Black Sea coastal road.
force composed of all remaining mountain and light infantry
divisions will force a passage of the Kuban, and occupy the
around Maikop and Armavir.
In the further
advance of this force, reinforced at a suitable time by mountain
units, towards and across the western part of the Caucasus,
all practical passes
are to be used, so that the Black Sea coast may be occupied
in conjunction with
At the same
time a force composed chiefly of fast-moving formations
will give flank cover in the east and capture the Grozny
area. Detachments will
block the military road between Osetia and Grozny, if
possible at the top of the
Bakou area will be occupied by a thrust along the Caspian coast.
The Army Group may expect the subsequent arrival of the
Italian Alpine Corps.
operations by Army Group A will be known by the cover name
the great oil centre 200 miles south of Rostov, fell to
Kleist's right-hand column on August 9, and Pyatigorsk, 150
of Maikop, fell to his centre on the same day, while the
against Stalingrad, in the opposite direction from Rostov, was
developed. Shortage of fuel, however, slowed the pace of
subsequent southeastward progress through the Caucasian
and, after forcing a passage over the Terek River near Mosdok
September, he was halted definitively just south of that river.
end of October 1942 the Caucasian front was stabilized; but the
struggle for Stalingrad, draining manpower that might have won
for the Germans in Caucasia, was to rage on, fatefully, for
months. Already, however, it was evident that Hitler's new
had fallen short of its objectives, and the scapegoat this time
Franz Halder, who was superseded by Kurt Zeitzler as chief of