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Author Topic: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918  (Read 1363 times)

Offline cuprum

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Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« on: December 12, 2021, 12:04:42 PM »
Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918.


Stranded ships of the Red Flotilla


General scheme of the Taganrog landing


The defeat of the landing on June 12-14, 1918. German map

"Red landing" - a military operation of the Red Army to capture the city of Taganrog, occupied by the German army, carried out in June 1918. The landing failed, more than two thousand Red Army men were taken prisoner by the Germans. All prisoners were executed by order of the German military command.

On May 1, 1918, German troops, with the support of the troops of the Ukrainian State, entered Taganrog.

Under the onslaught of a superior enemy, the Reds (1st and 2nd revolutionary Taganrog regiments) were defeated and retreated. Due to the fact that the Taganrog-Rostov railway line was congested with trains, the city defense headquarters decided to retreat by sea. The numerous ships in the port took on board the Red Guard detachments, the wounded and sick, and valuable property.

On May 1, when German troops entered Taganrog, an impromptu squadron weighed anchors and headed for the city of Yeisk, the only port of the Azov Sea, which was in the hands of the Soviet government.

A few days later the Germans occupied Rostov-on-Don. However, the further advance of the invaders was stopped by units of the Red Army and workers' detachments. Repeated attempts by the invaders to occupy Bataysk, an important railway junction, were repulsed. The command of the Red Army in the Kuban, headed by K.I. Kalnin tried to deploy active hostilities, trying to wrest the initiative from the hands of the enemy.

By June 1918, several irregular revolutionary detachments evacuated from Taganrog were in Yeisk, as well as several units of the Red Army, which, under the pressure of the Germans, were forced to retreat to the Kuban. From these units, as well as from the inhabitants of Yeisk, Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Umanskaya, Starominskaya and other villages of the north-western part of the Kuban, a division was formed. The command of the Red Army in the Kuban decided to land this division in Taganrog, where the Germans were already, and recapture the city.

The landing force included: the 1st extraordinary division, consisting of the Kuban, Yeisk, Akhtarsk infantry and Kuban cavalry regiments, an artillery brigade of 3 batteries of 4 guns in each and a horse-machine gun detachment. The landing consisted mainly of workers, peasants and Cossacks of Taganrog, Akhtar and Yeisk department of the Kuban villages. The plan provided that at the time of the landing, the commander of the troops of the Don-Kuban Front I.L. Sorokin will lead an offensive on Rostov and thus will not allow the Germans to withdraw troops from the front to counter the landing.

The command of the landing was entrusted to the commander of the First Extraordinary Division, Sigismund Klovo. Twenty-five-year-old S. Klovo, a native of Taganrog, a former tsarist officer, took an active part in the creation of the Red Guard detachments in Taganrog.

Details here (automatic translation):

https://warspot-ru.translate.goog/9195-zabytyy-desant-zabytoy-armii?_x_tr_sl=ru&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=ru

In my opinion, you can create a wonderful scenario for the game.



« Last Edit: December 12, 2021, 12:09:15 PM by cuprum »

Offline Mike Blake

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2021, 03:02:03 PM »
Excellent stuff Cuprum - I am fascinated by landing ops, and this would make an interesting game. I have ships/boats, landing craft and barges - have the Russians but would need Germans (I only have trench raiders and a small unit of jaegers) and Ukrainians (and info on what the latter looked like...)
Size Does Matter! - 54mm - The One True Scale

Offline cuprum

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2021, 03:47:40 PM »
The Ukrainian troops did not participate in this battle. The German army and the Turkish fleet took part.

Troops of the German Empire (commander Karl Albert von Knerzer):

2nd Battalion, 122nd Reserve Infantry Regiment,
3rd Battalion, 121st Landwehr Infantry Regiment
1st Battalion, 3rd Landwehr Infantry Regiment
224th Reserve Infantry Regiment
units of the 7th Bavarian Cavalry Brigade
6th and 7th batteries of the Feldartillerie-Regiment „König Karl“ (1. Württembergisches) Nr. 13
Field artillery regiment number 274
1st squadron of the Ulanen-Regiment „König Wilhelm I.“ (2. Württembergisches) Nr. 20
2 squadrons of the Königlich Bayerisches 5. Chevaulegers-Regiment „Erzherzog Friedrich von Österreich“
Air squadron number 27
Total: about 3000 people, aviation, 1 armored car, 10 artillery batteries.

Red Army:

1st extraordinary division of the troops of the Kuban-Black Sea Republic (commander S. Klovo):
- Kuban infantry regiment
- Yeisk infantry regiment
- Akhtarsk infantry regiment
- Kuban Cavalry Regiment (cossaks)
artillery brigade (from 3 batteries with 4 guns in each) and a horse-machine gun detachment
about 500 people from the local militia from the peasants, who joined to the "red landing".
Total: about six and a half thousand people, 12 guns (not counting naval artillery). Limited amount of ammunition.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2021, 03:52:58 PM by cuprum »

Offline Mike Blake

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2021, 05:14:45 PM »
Briliant - thanks Cuprum. I went to the article and devoured it eagerly.

Offline trev

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2021, 05:49:05 PM »
That's brilliant Cuprum.  Thanks a lot for posting about this battle.  It would make a great little campaign.  It has loads of crazy stuff.  A cavalry attack under cover of cows just cries out to be gamed.   :o lol

I wonder about the quality of the Germans.  I'm guessing by 1918 Landwehr and Reserves didn't mean much and they would all be weary veterans.

What are the paratroopers really?  I want them to be red airships but I suspect it's a mistranslation for a naval landing party or something similar.   :D

Quote
Failure on land

The sudden departure of the ships caused panic among the troops on the shore. The paratroopers began to abandon their positions and retreat to the Vesely farm and the landing site.

Quote
Десантники начали бросать свои позиции и отходить к хутору Веселый и месту высадки.

On a more grim note...

Quote
The landing failed, more than two thousand Red Army men were taken prisoner by the Germans. All prisoners were executed by order of the German military command.

That's quite a war crime.  Did the interventionists routinely execute captured Reds or was this just a one off?

Cheers,

T

Offline Mark Plant

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2021, 08:58:00 PM »
The "paratroopers" are the "Десантники" where desant, Десант, is a landing -- aerial or seaborne.

The Germans retained their quality and discipline right up to the end. Even if they were a bit lower in Taganrog than the veterans on the Western Front, they would have been leagues ahead of the Reds of that time -- who despite their bravery, had entirely untrained commanders, no supply apparatus, and very unmilitary expectations of discipline  and obeying orders.

I have extreme doubts about the Germans executing 2,000 prisoners. It sounds like one of those episodes which later propagandists "expanded" upon. Maybe some of the commissars were shot -- but even that is quite contrary to German behaviour at the time. They did retain their discipline, which included not descending to the morals of those around them. (Now the Whites of the time would definitely have killed the commanders and commissars, but even they didn't usually shoot rankers.)

Offline trev

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2021, 11:08:42 PM »
The "paratroopers" are the "Десантники" where desant, Десант, is a landing -- aerial or seaborne.

Thanks.  So probably not a special unit then.  Just the troops of the landing force.

Quote
The Germans retained their quality and discipline right up to the end. Even if they were a bit lower in Taganrog than the veterans on the Western Front, they would have been leagues ahead of the Reds of that time -- who despite their bravery, had entirely untrained commanders, no supply apparatus, and very unmilitary expectations of discipline  and obeying orders.

I was more questioning if the Landwehr or Reserve titles would have had any significant distinction by this stage of the war but thanks for the appraisal.  To make a game of it you might want to accentuate a bit the professionalism of the war-weary vererans versus the revolutionary fervor of the Red militias, stereotype though that is.

Offline trev

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2021, 11:23:53 PM »
Quote
I have extreme doubts about the Germans executing 2,000 prisoners. It sounds like one of those episodes which later propagandists "expanded" upon. Maybe some of the commissars were shot -- but even that is quite contrary to German behaviour at the time. They did retain their discipline, which included not descending to the morals of those around them. (Now the Whites of the time would definitely have killed the commanders and commissars, but even they didn't usually shoot rankers.)

That was my reaction too but I did a bit of digging and found this source via this web site

Quote
    Before the feared storming of Sevastopol, Kosch received three delegations from the city. While he immediately rebuffed the representatives of the Rada, he promised the mayor that peace and order would be established if the citizens did not take up arms against the Germans. It was, however, only with the representatives of the workers’ soviet that Kosch engaged in a proper negotiation. He promised that he would not intervene in their organization if they reined in the workers. The Bolsheviks were guaranteed their lives if they handed over the fortress peacefully. The coup took place and, on 30 April, Sevastopol came under German control practically without a fight. Kosch thought it would be “quite impossible to have all 5–8,000 Bolsheviks shot.”82

    His colleague Colonel Arthur Bopp, on the other hand, as commander of the 52nd Württemberg Landwehr Brigade, showed no scruples only a few weeks later about shooting thousands of captured Bolsheviks at Taganrog. This was by far the greatest German mass crime during the whole period of occupation.83 After the initial campaign had been completed, there were still conflicts, especially on the eastern border of Ukraine. On 11 June the Bolsheviks carried out a major coup. In an amphibious operation, eight thousand men landed on a peninsula between Taganrog and the Miius Firth84 in order to attack the German troops in the vicinity of Rostov.  Korps Knoerzer  briefly considered withdrawing from the city but then decided against it on account of “the lack of initiative constantly shown by these opponents, their poor discipline and lack of leaders.” Instead, Knoerzer sent the 52nd Württemberg Landwehr Brigade and the 7th Bavarian Cavalry Brigade against the enemy.85

    Colonel Bopp was given the task of leading the attack. He divided the units under his command into three groups86 and, after two days, drove his opponents back to the sea. Only between one and two thousand Bolsheviks could be rescued by the landing craft. The Germans took no prisoners during the battle from among the “Bolsheviks who were defending themselves desperately”87 and, after the battle, Bopp issued a written order to shoot all prisoners. Only ten were kept for interrogation and later executed. On 14 June, the day after the battle, the battlefield was searched once again for scattered Bolsheviks, and they covered the many bodies because “with the high temperatures...the numerous bodies of dead men and animals lying around were creating intolerable and unhealthy conditions.”88 The war journal of the Württemberg Landwehr Brigade speaks of 6,000 enemy dead against 39 of their own troops, with 169 wounded and two missing.89 Army Group Eichhorn-Kiew published the outcome of the battle and hoped that this would give a “severe fright” to the Bolsheviks with regard to any future undertakings. The German delegation in Kyiv also considered the shootings justified but feared that publication in Germany or in neutral countries would “create a bad impression...because it could be concluded from this that we are conducting this war in a brutal manner.”90

    If this mass execution of Bolsheviks was already a horrible war crime, there is still some question as to whether there was also another one: among these shot, were there women and children from surrounding villages? As the German delegation in Ukraine  feared, letters appeared in the German press from German soldiers who had taken part in the battle containing “similar descriptions” of mass executions of “civilians, among them women and children.”91 The incident was even going to be debated in the Reichstag,92 which is why Army Group Eichhorn-Kiew demanded an explanation from Korps Knoerzer. The commanding general of the corps, Karl Albrecht von Knoerzer, replied an hour later by telephone that this involved “civilian bandits without uniform or other identification, among them some women and adolescents.”93 In spite of receiving other war documents from Korps Knoerzer ,Ober Ost was not satisfied with this answer. Accordingly, on 11 August, Colonel Bopp had to give a personal and detailed response to the accusations.94 Bopp indicated the previous atrocities committed by the Bolsheviks against German soldiers95 as well as against the civilian population, such as the murder of the former tsarist general Pavel von Rennenkampf. Moreover, the Bolsheviks were not wearing uniforms, were “nothing but murderers,” and “had pretended to be harmless villagers so that they could shoot at our people again.” Bopp frankly admitted the shooting of prisoners early in the morning of 14 June, among whom were a few armed women.96 But the colonel vigorously rejected the accusation that women and children from the civilian population had been killed. In addition, he emphasized that the shooting was broadly supported by the Ukrainian population.97

    A detailed study of the numerous after-action reports from various German units deployed at Taganrog give us a comparatively clear picture of what happened. The order to shoot prisoners is  explicitly confirmed,98 and an instruction regarding the digging of mass graves can also be found in the documents.99 But there is no mention of a mass execution of civilians.100 It is possible that this was not written down in official war journals or after-action reports, but there would have been some mention of the participation of local residents in the battle. But there is no such mention. It appears that the Bolsheviks forced the local population to carry out some logistical tasks,101 but the civilians clearly did not take part in the battle and do not appear to have assisted the landed Bolsheviks in any other way.102 There are two possible reasons why civilians still might have been killed. During the battle, there was some bitter close combat in the villages and on the farms where the Bolsheviks, according to German reports, “hid in mounds of straw, behind houses, hedges, etc....to fire on our companies, and some defended themselves to the last.”103 Civilians might have become victims in this way. On 14 June there was another order to “ruthlessly” cleanse and disarm the local towns and villages.104 Here as well, it cannot be ruled out that local residents were executed. But in general there is no sound evidence for a mass killing of civilians at Taganrog. To claim, on the basis of such  examples, that the local population was an integral part or an object of war for the Germans is highly questionable,105 quite apart from the fact that, with regard to numbers, the incidents at Taganrog were an absolute exception during the German occupation of Ukraine in 1918. Before the start of the invasion, the order of Korps Knoerzer stated: “Treat the local population well. They have already suffered enough at the hands of the Bolsheviks, those murderers and thieves.”106 In the weeks that followed, the local population certainly became more mistrustful of the Germans, but the soldiers did attempt, at Taganrog as well, to distinguish between the Bolsheviks and the uninvolved local population.107

    Still, there is no doubt that this incident, as well as the previous battles in the Crimea, demonstrated a radicalization of the German troops in their campaign against the Bolsheviks. Prisoners were no longer taken, even if they numbered in the thousands. And no one appeared to be bothered by this any longer.108 For Bopp, the incident had no career consequences. He kept his command and was even promoted to major general in November 1918. Knoerzer, however, maintained after the war that it was because of the Taganrog incident that he did not receive a decoration for the war in the East.109 The incident may also have played a role in his demotion in rank: on 2 October the corps named after him was disbanded, and he became commander of his old 7th Landwehr Division.

    Finally, it is interesting to note the argument of Bopp’s direct superior, Lieutenant General von Arnim.110 In his justification of this mass execution, he wrote: “For the reasons given, I consider the shooting of the prisoners to be not only humane and completely legal but also militarily necessary and correct.”111 This argumentation  reminds us of the Second World War: with the firm conviction that they were acting out of the necessities of war, combined with the belief that they had right on their side, it seemed to the German military that they could use any means to assert their claim.

From Dornik et al. The Emergence of Ukraine Self-Determination, Occupation and war in Ukraine 1917-1922, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, University of Alberta

Offline Mark Plant

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2021, 12:28:00 AM »
Well, that is fascinating. Thank-you Trev.

Incidentally, how good is the rest of that book?

Edit: never mind, I used my spam account and downloaded it.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2021, 02:47:57 AM by Mark Plant »

Offline cuprum

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2021, 01:48:10 AM »
Shooting prisoners of war without a trial is in any case a war crime. Even if these prisoners are rebels. But these were soldiers of the regular army, recognized by the German government, since this government negotiated with the Bolsheviks and concluded a peace agreement (which it violated by occupying territories not agreed in the agreement). These prisoners of war were not charged with real crimes, their guilt was not proven in any way. There is information that among these prisoners of war there were about 200 former German subjects (the Reds called them internationalists), only here you can see some corpus delicti - going to serve in the enemy army.
Regarding the execution of civilians, I am more inclined to trust the recollections of eyewitnesses (German soldiers) than German official documents, in which they preferred to hide the commission of the crime.



Red Guards from the city of Taganrog, 1918. It is quite possible that they were part of the newly formed division and took part in the amphibious landing.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2021, 01:51:13 AM by cuprum »

Offline cuprum

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2021, 04:00:16 AM »
The reason for the defeat of the red forces, in my opinion, is:
- stopping the offensive of the red troops near Rostov, which allowed the Germans to transfer troops from the front to counter the landing
- the lack of ammunition from the red ships, as a result of the battle with Turkish ships left without shells and deprived of the opportunity to support the landed troops (with an abundance of German artillery)
- a storm, as a result of which some of the red barges with field artillery and military supplies were thrown ashore, and which the Reds did not have the opportunity to quickly unload. As a result, they were left with almost no artillery support.


In the photo - the Germans are unloading trophies taken on the beached landing ships:







« Last Edit: December 14, 2021, 04:14:49 AM by cuprum »

Offline trev

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2021, 03:11:58 PM »
Well, that is fascinating. Thank-you Trev.

Incidentally, how good is the rest of that book?

Edit: never mind, I used my spam account and downloaded it.

Sorry, slow off the mark.  Sensible to use a spam accoutn Academia love to send you emails.  :D

Offline trev

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2021, 03:17:17 PM »
That seems reasonable for explaining the defeat, besides the general disorganisation and lack of leadership structure in the early Red Army.  Although organising an amphibious landing on that scale is hardly the action of a disorganised mob.

Offline FramFramson

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2021, 06:01:34 PM »
Good digging trev. Fascinating and horrifying to see the shadows of the later war appearing in the dying days of its predecessor.


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Offline Mark Plant

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Re: Red landing. Reds against the Germans 1918
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2021, 08:17:09 PM »
Quote
Although organising an amphibious landing on that scale is hardly the action of a disorganised mob.

The early Reds were often unbelievably optimistic about the power of revolutionary enthusiasm and their new mode of warfare. To be fair, when facing other forces of the old Russian empire it often worked.

The plan looks insane to me. Sail across a sea totally under the control of an enemy fleet, to attack a fixed position held by regulars with good artillery. All with a precarious supply system.

That the plan required a simultaneous attack at Rostov shows the triumph of hope over experience. Did they really think that, with their loose command system, that they could organise that properly?

Still, it makes for a fascinating scenario -- the craziness of it all only enhances it. Thank-you Cuprum!

 

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