OCHIROV U.B. The Operation “Big Saturn”: Plan and Implementation Opportunities

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2015.4.5        

Utash Borisovich Ochirov

Doctor of Sciences (History), Associate Professor,

Leading Researcher, Department of History and Archeology,

Kalmyk Institute for Humanities, RAN

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Ilishkina St., 8, 358000 Elista, Russian Federation

Abstract. The article analyzes the plan of one of the most important operations of a radical turning point in the course of the Great Patriotic War. Initially, the plan, conceived as the development of Operation “Uranus” and resulted in the encirclement of the 6th Army headed by Field Marshall Paulus at Stalingrad, was called “Saturn”. However, after creating a shortened version of the name “Small Saturn”, it was called “Big Saturn”. The main purpose of “Saturn” was to conduct the strategic offensive with the help of four or five armies from middle Don and Chir towards Rostov-on-Don to withdraw the enemy Army Group “Don” and Army Group “A” from the Caucasus. The enemy army groups consisted of almost a third of the units of the Wehrmacht and its allies, who fought against the Soviet Union and their defeat or delay on the Taman Peninsula where there was no port capacity for rapid evacuation of such a large group of people, equipment and supplies, could significantly change the balance of forces on the Eastern front. Unfortunately, the Сhief of the General Staff of the Red Army Alexander Vasilevsky, who was initially in charge of the “Saturn” operation as the representative of Stavka (General Headquarters), was appointed by Stalin in late November as a coordinator of the Soviet troops, achieving the encirclement of the surrounded Paulus’s grouping. Vasilevsky, using his authority, managed to transfer a significant part of the strategic reserves from the middle Don direction firstly to the Stalingrad direction and then to the Kotelnikovsky direction against unlocking grouping of Manstein. The analysis of the forces of the Stalingrad Front, given in the article, shows that there were enough troops to repulse an attack. The transferred strategic reserves proved to be redundant, and their offensive on Rostov failed, while their usage according to the plan “Saturn” would have led to undeniable success. As a result, Manstein managed to get out of the trap through Rostov a large part of forces of Army Group “A” and Army Group “Don”, which played a key role in the defeat of Soviet forces in Donbass and under Kharkov during strategic Operations “Zvezda” and “Scachok”.

Key words: Great Patriotic War, radical turning point, Stalingrad battle, operation “Saturn”, Middle Don operation, Southwestern Front (of the 2nd formation), Alexander Mikhaylovich Vasilevsky, Nikolay Fedorovich Vatutin.

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The Operation “Big Saturn”: Plan and Implementation Opportunities by Ochirov U.B. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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