When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union on a broad front on June 22, 1941, the Ukrainian capital Kiev was one of the targets. The German advance went at a furious pace but without really getting to any decisive blow. The soviet defenders fought furiously despite being both materially and leaderally inferior to the German forces. But somehow they always managed to fill the gaps with both material and crew while the German supply lines became stretched. Cut-off Soviet units also formed partisan units that carried out sabotage behind the front and attacked German units in the back.

In august 1941 Kiev was within reach of the german armies. About 700,000 Soviet soldiers on the southwestern front were at risk of being encircled and captured at Kiev. This was an enticing thought for Hitler, who had units that took part in the advance towards Moscow moved to units that advanced towards Kiev. Something that several generals were against because they thought that Moscow should be given priority over Kiev. At the end of august, German artillery and flights began to bombard Kiev. In mid-September, the final attack on the city began. The battle of Kiev lasted for about ten days and became a crushing German victory. More than 600,000 Soviet prisoners of war were taken, thus facing an uncertain future. Add to that valuable material that was also lost.

After the Germans surrendered at Stalingrad in January 1943, the Red army was on the offensive. Slowly but surely, the Red Army recaptured previously occupied territories and at the end of October 1943 approached Kiev from the east. Kiev had been occupied for more than two years, suffering both materially and humanly during this period. The soviet attack began in early November 1943 and slowly but surely drove out the german forces that defended themselves furiously. After just two weeks, the city was liberated but not yet secured. The Germans tried to recapture the city, but the city was fiercely defended by the Red Army. Just before Christmas 1943, German resources were depleted and they abandoned withdrew.

Current status: Museum/monument (2019).

Location: 50°25'37.64' N, 30°33'50.29' E

Get there: Metro to Arsenalna Station.

My comment:

Kiev is one of thirteen cities in the former. Soviet Union, which was awarded the title Hero City for its sacrifices and suffering during what in the Soviet Union was called the great patriotic war. Kiev received the award in 1965 and was the finest award a city could receive during the Soviet era. In memory of the victory over Nazi Germany, several museums and monuments were established throughout Kiev. The most interesting and lavish is the state Ukrainian museum of the great patriotic war. It is located on a hill and is characterized by a huge statue depicting Mother Russia. The statue can be seen from all over Kiev and has become a symbol of the city.

The statue itself, including the pedestal it stands on, measures 102 meters. Inside the pedestal there is an exciting museum where a large part is dedicated to the war against Nazi Germany 1941 – 1945. Interesting objects and dioramas depict the war in several halls. Though not as spectacular and not with the same tribute to the Soviet Union as its counterpart in Moscow. This, of course, has its reasons in the contradictions and in the conflict that Ukraine has had with Russia since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the conflict in eastern Ukraine with Russian separatists. Part of the museum is therefore about the conflict with Russia. The museum is well worth a visit.

Follow up in books: Bellamy, Chris: Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War (2008).