Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sieges of Sevastopol (Crimea)

The destroyed harbor of Sevastopol by Horst Grund, ca. Juli 1942 (Das Bundesarchiv)

During WWII German forces reached Crimea in the autumn of 1941 and overran most of the area. The only objective not in Axis hands was Sevastopol. They started a siege and several attempts were made to secure the city. Soviet forces launched an amphibious landing on the Crimean peninsula at Kerch in December 1941 to relieve the siege but were defeated in May 1942 (see previous post).

Present day Sevastopol, a city with 380.000 inhabitants

On 2 June 1942 the Axis launched operation Störfang (Sturgeon Catch) to attacked Sevastopol by land, sea and air. The Soviet Red Army and Black Sea Fleet held out for weeks under intense bombardment. Finally, on 4 July 1942, the remaining Soviet forces surrendered and the Axis seized the port.

During the Crimean War (1853-1856) the city of Sevastopol was also under siege.  The city was the home of the Tsar's Black Sea Fleet. The allies (French, Ottoman, and British) landed at Yevpatoria (see penultimate post) in September 1854 with 50,000 men. The 56-kilometre traverse took a year of heavy fighting against the Russians, after which the city was occupied in September 1855.

Sevastopol Artillery Bay view (source: wikipedia)

next episode: ??????


  1. Very interesting. A place that has been no stranger to conflict over the years. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised when 'conflict' arises again.
    On a different note, there looks to be some beautiful architecture.

  2. After that event, the Tatars living in Crimea (majority of population, until that age) started to collaborate with German Wehrmacht. They compose a particular sector, called Wolgatatarische Legion.
    When Stalin conquered again Sevastopol in May, 1944, deported all Tatar population to Uzbekistan.
    Because of this reason, nowadays in Crimea there is a majority of Russian population. This particular should be remembered.
    Besides, in my opinion, it is very fascinating the origin of several Crimean toponyms. They are Greek (Sympheropolis , Sevastopolis, Theodosia, etc). It is a further proof that Crimea in the deep was a real "land of the world".
    With the Putinism, now there is a real risk of "tabula rasa" of non-Russian population. Will Crimea become into a new East Prussia (1945), Istria (1947) or a lot of areas in the Balkan peninsula (1920)?

    1. Based on its history starting with the classical Greeks Crimea should be part of Europe. Somehow I think this won't impress Putin, I fear he will like your tabula rasa idea. But according to Putinism if the Tatars feel threatened they can organize a referendum and declare independence (or does this only apply to Russians).

  3. Enjoyed the history as usual. I only learned recently that Khruschev handed over Crimea to Ukraine.


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