The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of offensive operations undertaken by the German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov, between 19 February and 15 March 1943. The German counterstroke led to the destruction of approximately 52 Soviet divisions and the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod. As the German Sixth Army was encircled in Stalingrad, the Red Army undertook a series of wider offensives against the rest of Army Group South. These culminated on 2 January 1943, when the Soviets launched Operation Star, which between January and early February broke German defenses and led to the Soviet recapture of Kharkov, Belgorod and Kursk. Despite the success of the Soviet offensive, it also resulted in participating Soviet units over-extending themselves. Freed on 2 February by the surrender of the German Sixth Army, the Red Army's Central Front turned its attention west and on 25 February expanded its offensive against both Army Group South and Army Group Center. However, months of continuous operations had taken a heavy toll on the Soviets and some divisions were reduced to 1,000–1,500 combat effectives. On 19 February, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein took the opportunity to launch his Kharkov counterstroke, using the fresh SS Panzer Corps and two panzer armies. Although the Germans were also understrength, the Wehrmacht successfully flanked, encircled and defeated the Red Army's armored spearheads south of Kharkov.

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Today's selected anniversaries:


King Sigismund III Vasa of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was crowned King of Sweden, succeeding his father John III.


Peninsular War: An outnumbered French force under Édouard Mortier routed and nearly destroyed the Spanish at the Battle of the Gebora near Badajoz, Spain.


English explorer William Smith sighted Livingston Island in the South Shetland archipelago, a group of Antarctic islands about more than 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) south of the Falkland Islands.


World War II: In the largest attacks mounted by a foreign power against Australia, more than 240 bombers and fighters of the Imperial Japanese Navy bombed Darwin, Northern Territory.


The space station Mir of the Soviet space program was launched, establishing the first long-term research station in space.

Wiktionary's word of the day:

atone (v):
To make reparation, compensation, or amends, for an offence or a crime one has committed

Wikiquote quote of the day:

Now that your rose is in bloom,
 A light hits the gloom on the grave,
 I've been kissed by a rose on the grave.   --Seal (musician)