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How One of Hitler's Greatest Generals Conquered Ukraine (with Panzer Tanks)

Warfare History Network

History, Europe

German Panzers under General Heinz Guderian captured Ukraine in 1941.

The first time Adolf Hitler ventured into the captured territory of the Soviet Union was six weeks into the campaign on August 4, 1941, when he traveled to Borisov to the headquarters of Army Group Center and its commander, Field Marshal Fedor von Bock. Colonel General Heinz Guderian, commander of the Army Group’s Panzer Group 2, whose troops had spent those seven weeks slashing through the western Soviet Union, had been called to the headquarters to make a report to the Führer.

During their meeting, Hitler spoke of his indecision regarding the further course of the campaign. He said that Leningrad was the campaign’s primary objective at this point because of its industrial capacity. But he was not sure whether Moscow or Ukraine would come next. Later, Guderian wrote, “He seemed to incline toward the latter target for a number of reasons: first, Army Group South seemed to be laying the groundwork for victory in that area; secondly, he believed that the raw materials and agricultural produce of the Ukraine were necessary to Germany for the further prosecution of the war; and finally, he thought it essential that the Crimea, ‘that Soviet aircraft carrier operating against the Rumanian oilfields’ be neutralized.”

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