Kharkov, Kursk, Balaclava, Yalta & SevastopolWednesday, February 12, 2014
It is strange that with Ukraine so much in the news and with several mentions of Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych attempting refuge in Balaclava, Kharkiv (very near the Russian city of Kursk) and Sevastopol, very near Yalta, that nobody has written about the connection of these places to history. There has not even been a mention of that war, the Crimean which was really the first war to be photographed. It was photographed by photographer Roger Fenton who also photographed the British Royal Family. It was Roger Fenton’s much discussed photograph (did he add spent shells to make the picture more photogenic?) The Valley of the Shadow of Death that first gave a glimpse to the average person of the destructive power of modern warfare. Or perhaps it tell us of what we now call the fog of war.
|The original minus canon balls?|
Forgotten in the dispatches from Ukraine is the fact that this country has no real mountains and legions, armies and barbarians have moved back in forth, east to west and west to east, through it for hundreds if not thousands of years.
|Yalta, February 1945|
Forgotten, too is that great Third Battle of Kharkov, Feb 20 - March 18, 1943 in which Hitler picked his best general, Erich von Manstein to make sure this third battle would be a success. After a huge fight with guerrillas and snipers in the city the Germans finally won. The victory made them over-indulgent in their hopes for victory which lead to the largest tank battle of all time in the nearby Russian city of Kursk, July/August 1943. The Germans lost thousands of tanks which they could not replace as quickly as the Russians did. The Russians had wisely moved their tank factories east, far away from the range of German bombers while allies did their job of bombing German war industry into submission. Forgotten, too is the fact that von Manstein was made a Field Marshall by Hitler when he decisively (before Khakov) defeated the Russians in 7 June, July 4, 1942 at Sevastopol.
|Eric von Manstein|