The author, Igor’ Sdvizhkov, takes a close look at the attempt by the Briansk Front’s Operational Group Chibisov to collapse the northern shoulder of the German drive to the Caucasus – north-west of Voronezh – in July 1942. Using both previously classified Soviet documents and German documents, Sdvizhkov focuses in particular on General A.I. Liziukov’s role in the counteroffensive as commander of the 2nd Tank Corps after his 5th Tank Army was disbanded following failed counterattacks in early July. The Soviet attacks led to nine days of heavy see-saw fighting involving tens of thousands of men and hundreds of tanks and guns on both sides, and threatened to isolate the German forces holding Voronezh.
Sdvizhkov also describes the German reaction to the initial penetration made by Operational Group Chibisov’s offensive: a counterattack primarily with the forces of the 9th Panzer Division, which at the time of the new Soviet offensive, was in a reserve position – serving as a fire brigade. The German riposte blunted the Soviet attacks and encircled elements of Operational Group Chibisov, and ultimately stabilized the tottering German front north-west of Voronezh for the time being. General Liziukov would go missing during the 2nd Tank Corps’ attack, and the author discusses why the Briansk Front and Operational Group Chibisov Command initially made little or no effort to find the General, Stalin’s suspicions surrounding General Liziukov’s disappearance and the results of the official wartime investigation of the matter.
Sdvizhkov also addresses the numerous controversies that later ensued due to erroneous and/or misleading recollections, as well as the total inability to locate General Liziukov or his remains. Carefully examining the available evidence, Sdvizhkov offers a cogent and persuasive explanation of what happened.
CONFRONTING CASE BLUE Briansk Front’s Attempt to Derail the German Drive to the Caucasus, July 1942
While David Glantz gave us a broad perspective of Case Blue that lasted for over two months in his “To the Gates of Stalingrad”, Mr Sdvizhkov takes a more narrow perspective. His book looks at one particular Soviet counter offensive that lasted a week and had the objective of isolating then destroying the German bridgehead on the Don in the Voronezh sector. The author does a very good job of describing not only the operational attacks but also the reasons why the Soviet progress didn’t meet up with its expectations: poor planning, poor leadership, poor preparations, poor logistics, poor training, insufficient weaponry and poor communications between infantry, armour and air. Sdvizhkov also presents a thoughtful after action report that includes a discussion of the disappearance of General Liziukov. There are ten small area coloured maps that are well populated and will be helpful in following the action. An extensive Appendix, Bibliography and Index follows.