Across A Snow-Covered Field

Soldiers of the Kalinin Front, a Red Army unit equivalent to a Western army corps, crawl through a snow-covered field to attack Russian positions. Thee soldiers have not been issued Winter camouflage uniforms, so they will be exposed on the open field. This photo was probably taken during Operation Mars, as Kalinin Front fought to eliminate the German salient at Rzhev, near Moscow; the Soviets called it the Rzhevskaja Mjasorubka ("Rzhevskaya mincer" or Rzhev Meat Grinder) because so many were killed. The Soviets, commanded by General (later Marshal of the Soviet Union) Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov (December 1, 1896 - June 18, 1974), attempted to annihilate the German 9th Army and evenatually the whole of Army Group Center, in a companion pincer movement to Operation Uranus, the envelopment and destruction of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad. Because of weather, supply difficulties, and superior tactical mobility of German units, Operation Mars failed, inflicting over 100,000 casualties on the Red Army, including over 1,700 tanks. Zhukov glossed over Operation Mars in his memoirs, never mentioning it by name and claiming it was a diversion for the more successful Operation Uranus, which did envelop and destroy 6th Army.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Friday, January 1, 1943
Soviet Union