Colonel-General Fritz Erich von Manstein During Unternehmen Trappenjagd, Kerch, Crimea, Ukraine

Colonel-General (later Feldmarschall) Fritz Erich von Manstein (hand raised to block the sun), commander of 11.Armee, views Soviet forces attempting to withdraw from the Kerch Straits during Unternehmen Trappenjagd ("Operation Bastard Hunt"). On May 8, 1942, against the odds, Manstein's 11th Army retook the offensive, capturing Kerch for the second time; the Germans had held it from September-December 1941. By May 16, 11th Army had retaken Kerch and 11th Army cleared the Kerch peninsula by May 18. Manstein finalized plans to assault Sevastapol, which later fell on July 1, 1942. He was promoted to Field Marshal the same day. With only nine German divisions and two Romanian corps, Manstein destroyed three Soviet Armies, capturing 170,000 men and vast quantities of arms and materiel while losing less than 7900 men. In his memoir, Manstein wrote, "Before the attack was launched I had once again moved into a command post close behind the front, and now I was out all day long visiting divisional staffs and front-line troops. For a soldier there was something unforgettable about this tempestuous chase. All the roads were littered with enemy vehicles, tanks and guns, and one kept passing long processions of prisoners. The view from a hill near Kerch, where I had a rendezvous with General v. Richthofen [Wolfram Freiherr (Baron) von Richthofen, commander of 4.Luftflotte, Manstein's attached air force for the conquest of the Crimea] was quite breath-taking. Down below us, bathed in glorious sunshine, lay the Straits of Kerch - the goal we had dreamt of for so long. From the beach in front of us, which was crammed with Soviet vehicles of every possible description, enemy motor torpedo-boats made repeated attempts to pick up Soviet personnel, but they were driven off every time by our own gunfire. In order to spare our infantry any further sacrifices and bring about the surrender of the enemy elements still fighting back desperately along the coast itself, we had a mass artillery barrage laid down on these last pockets of resistance." Manstein almost successfully broke through to field Marshal Friedrich Paulus' beleaguered 6th Army trapped at Stalingrad in January 1943, and was relived in 1944 for advocating a fluid defense in the face of Reichklanzler Adolf Hitler's adamant refusal to give up any captured ground. Retiring to Western Germany, Manstein was captured by the British and called upon to testify at the Nuremberg Trials before being indicted by the Soviets in 1949. He was sentenced to eighteen years' imprisonment but was released in 1953 for medical reasons.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Monday, May 18, 1942
Soviet Union