Appendix A: Dramatis personae

Colonel Pavel P. Gorpishchenko (1893–1943). Commander of the 8th Naval Infantry Brigade at Sevastopol until seriously wounded in June 1942. He was evacuated and later commanded the 77th Rifle Division until killed at the Nikopol bridgehead on November 28, 1943. Gorpishchenko is now widely regarded as one of the great Soviet heroes of the 1941–42 Siege of Sevastopol, and his reputation did not suffer like other commanders, who abandoned their units when the city fell.

Captain Lieutenant Aleksei P. Matyukhin (1912–45). Commander of Battery 701 on the Malakhov Hill, who survived three years of captivity in the Gross-Rosen Concentration Camp until he was liberated at the end of the war. However the NKVD interrogated all former POWs and Matyukhin received a very rough welcome. He committed suicide in August 1945.

Aleksei V. Mokrousov (1887–1959). Soviet partisan leader in Crimea in 1941–42. After being relieved of command in mid-1942, he was given command of the 66th Guards Rifle Regiment and participated in the landings near Kerch in November 1943. After the liberation of the Crimea, he managed to get promoted to the rank of colonel but was quickly relegated to the reserves once the war ended. Post-war, Mokrousov used his connections with the Communist Party bosses in Simferopol to get himself a senior bureaucratic post. Given his hatred for the Crimean Tatars, he was likely one of the Communist officials who benefited from the appropriation of Tatar lands and property.

Marshal of the Soviet Union Fyodor I. Tolbukhin (1894–1949). Followed up the liberation of the Crimea with spearheading an invasion of Romania in August 1944 that caused that country to switch sides. Tolbukhin’s forces eliminated much of the German presence in the Balkans and played a major role in the German defeat on the Eastern Front. However, after the war Tolbukhin was sent to command the backwater Transcaucasus Military District – a very minor post for a Marshal – where he died in 1949.

General Ivan E. Petrov (1896–1958). Given command of the 2nd Belorussian Front and later the 4th Ukrainian Front in 1944–45, but his career continued to suffer from ups and downs. He ended the war as a full general and was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union, but only after the war was over. Like Tolbukhin, he was sent to a backwater posting in the Turkestan Military District from 1945–52. Petrov held a number of senior but supervisory-type assignments until his death in 1958. He was fortunate to keep his head after the debacles in the Crimea in 1941–42, and his role in the liberation of the Crimea restored his reputation somewhat, but he was still pigeonholed as a military mediocrity.

Admiral of the Fleet Sergei G. Gorshkov (1910–88). Despite remaining the commander of the second-string Azov Flotilla throughout much of the war, Gorshkov did very well in the post-war Soviet Navy. In 1956, Khrushchev appointed him commander-in-chief of the Soviet Navy, a post he held until 1985. Gorshkov had no experience of leading great fleets into battle, but he was an astute observer of naval strategy and operations. He was responsible for building up Soviet naval power, and after the humiliation in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, he was determined to build a balanced fleet with aircraft carriers. However, the Soviet Union lacked the economic resources to build Gorshkov’s ideal fleet, and by the time that he retired, Soviet power was in decline.

Marshall of the Soviet Union Petr K. Koshevoi (1904–76). Koshevoi was awarded the HSU for his leadership of the 63rd Rifle Corps in the capture of the Sapun Heights. He was awarded another HSU for his role in the capture of Königsberg in April 1945. After the war, he pointedly avoided taking senior positions in Moscow and preferred duty in East Germany and Siberia. In 1965, Koshevoi was given command of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) and was promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union in August 1968. Six days later, he led the invasion of Czechoslovakia. However, Koshevoi was relieved of command in the next year and was in reserve until his death in 1976. Despite his distinguished military record, Koshevoi was not buried in the Kremlin wall, as is customary for Soviet marshals.

General der Kavallerie Erik Hansen (1889–1967). Hansen remained in command of LIV Armeekorps on the Leningrad front until January 1943. Despite his excellent performance as a corps commander, Hansen was never given an army-level command and instead was sent to be the senior German officer in Romania during 1943–44. When Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu was overthrown in a coup in August 1944, Hansen was in the German embassy in Bucharest, which was quickly surrounded by Romanian troops. Soon, Hansen was handed over to the troops of Tolbukhin’s advancing 3rd Ukrainian Front. He spent a decade in Soviet captivity, but returned to Germany in 1955.

Oberst Rudolf Buhse (1905–97). After the fall of Sevastopol in July 1942, Buhse was sent three months later with his regiment to join the DAK in North Africa. When Anglo-American forces defeated Axis forces in Tunisia in May 1943, Buhse was captured and spent 12 years in captivity. Upon returning to West Germany, Buhse joined the Bundeswehr in 1956 and served in several positions, including command of a Panzergrenadier brigade, until his retirement in 1962.

General der Infanterie Otto Hitzfeld (1898–1990). The intrepid commander of Infanterie-Regiment 213 of the 73. Infanterie-Division, who was later known as “the Lion of Sevastopol,” rose rapidly after the Crimean campaign. Soon he became a division commander, then a corps commander, and finally in 1945 an army commander. Hitzfeld spent the last year of the war on the Western Front and was captured by American troops in 1945. He was released after only two years and eventually became the director of a chemical company.

General der Infanterie Dietrich von Choltitz (1894–1966). After his outstanding performance as a regimental commander at Sevastopol in 1941–42, he rose very rapidly and was made commander of XXXXVIII Panzerkorps in May 1943. Nevertheless, Choltitz became disillusioned with Hitler and the Nazis and he was approached by Oberst Claus von Stauffenberg in his efforts to organize an anti-Hitler resistance. Choltitz was sympathetic to the resistance but believed that Stauffenberg was too indiscrete and did not openly join the conspiracy. In early 1944, Choltitz was transferred to the Western Front and served famously as the last German commander of the Paris garrison, where he ignored Hitler’s orders to destroy the city. After his surrender to the Allies in August 1944, he spent the next three years in relatively comfortable captivity in England and the United States. While a prisoner, Choltitz’s conversations with other German senior prisoners were secretly taped and he unwittingly revealed that, “the worst job I ever carried out – which, however, I carried out with great consistency – was the liquidation of the Jews.”1 In arguments with pro-Nazi officers, Choltitz labeled the “scorched earth” tactics used by the retreating Wehrmacht as war crimes and said that Hitler was a criminal. After his release, Choltitz suffered from poor health – he had been wounded several times in the Crimea – and settled into a quiet retirement. Yet if any German officer learned something positive from his experiences in the Crimea, it was Dietrich von Choltitz.

Generalmajor Erich Bärenfänger (1915–45). After being evacuated from the Crimea in January 1944, Bärenfänger was awarded the swords to his Ritterkreuz, but due to his multiple wounds it was decided that he would not be sent back to the front. Instead, he was sent to train Hitler Youth recruits. During the battle of Berlin in April 1945, Hitler decided to promote Bärenfänger two ranks to Generalmajor and put him in charge of the defenses around the Reichstag. Bärenfänger led a Kampfgruppe, which took part in fierce counterattacks, but all he could do was prolong the agony. On May 1, the 30-year-old Bärenfänger and his wife committed suicide in the ruins of Berlin.

SS-Gruppenführer Ludolf-Hermann von Alvensleben (1901–70). After directing the ethnic cleansing of the Crimea in 1941–43, Alvensleben returned to Germany once the Crimea was isolated by the Red Army’s advance. Although he was captured by British forces in April 1945, he managed to escape and make his way to Argentina, where he lived as a fugitive for the rest of his life. He was tried and sentenced to death in absentia by a Polish court for war crimes he committed in Poland in 1939, but was never held accountable for his crimes in the Crimea.

SS-Gruppenführer Otto Ohlendorf (1907–51). After murdering at least 90,000 people in and around the Crimea, Ohlendorf returned to staff positions in Germany in 1943. He remained close to Himmler and was captured with him in April 1945. He was tried and convicted for crimes against humanity by a US military tribunal and hanged in June 1951. Much of what we know today about Einsatzgruppe D’s activities is based upon Ohlendorf’s frank testimony, and he remained unapologetic about his actions.

General der Infanterie Karl Allmendinger (1891–65). Allmendinger was placed in reserve after the loss of the Crimea and received no further assignments. He was captured by US troops in 1945 but was released two years later.

Generalleutnant Johannes Zuckertort (1886–1969). Zuckertort continued to command HArko 306 until November 1942, at which point he was transferred to France. In May 1944 he was retired from the Wehrmacht and later died in East Germany.

Korvettenkapitän Karl-Heinz Birnbacher (1910–91). Commander of 1. Schnellbootsflottille until August 1942. In December 1943, he took command of the destroyer Z-24 at Bordeaux and survived when the ship was sunk by British bombers in August 1944. Afterwards, he commanded a naval battalion in the defense of the Fortress-South Gironde, which did not surrender to French troops until April 1945. Birnbacher was released from captivity in 1947 and joined the newly formed Bundesmarine in 1956. In 1959, he took command of the destroyer Z-1, West Germany’s first major warship. He continued to serve in senior naval positions until his retirement in 1970.

Generalleutant Gerhard Barkhorn (1919–83). Three weeks after he left the Crimea, Barkhorn was shot down and badly wounded by Soviet P-39 fighters. He returned to flight duty in October 1944, flying defensive missions over the Reich. He began flying the Me-262 jet fighter in 1945 but scored no victories in it. By the end of the war he claimed 301 aerial victories, making him the second-highest-scoring Luftwaffe pilot of World War II. After brief captivity by US forces in 1945, Barkhorn joined the Bundesluftwaffe in 1956. He commanded the 31st Fighter-Bomber Wing, initially equipped with American-made F84F jet fighters, and then F-104 Starfighters, from 1957–62. He retired from the Luftwaffe as a Generalleutnant in 1976.

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