Korsun–Shevchenkovsky Offensive

The German forces in the salient, part of 8th Army, consisted of two Corps, the 11th and 42nd.

These two Corps included the 57th, 88th, 72nd, parts of the 389th Infantry Divisions and the 5th SS Panzer Grenadier Division Wiking. In addition was the Korpsabteilung B, made up from parts of the 258th Regiment and the 112th Infantry division, plus various armoured and other supporting units. An airfield at Korsun also provided the possibility that any units that might become trapped could be re-supplied by air. Despite this, Field Marshal Von Manstein, commander of Army Group South, had requested repeatedly that the two Corps be allowed to withdraw from the salient in order to straighten the German line. However Hitler refused, ordering that the salient be held, despite the risk of encirclement. He proposed that once the Russian offensive had been halted, it would be used as a springboard for an offensive to recapture Kiev.

The Red Army encirclement of Cherkassy-Korsun inflicted serious damage on six German divisions, including Wiking; these units were nearly decimated and had to be withdrawn, requiring complete re-equipping after this military disaster. Most escaped troops were eventually shipped from collection points near Uman to rehabilitation areas and hospitals in Poland, or were sent on leave to their home towns. The Soviet forces continued their steamroller drive westward with massive tank armies of T-34's, Iosif Stalin 2’s and trucks and Shermans supplied by their American allies under Lend-Lease.

Controversy exists to this day over casualties and losses. Soviet historian Vladimir Telpukhovsky claims that the Red Army killed 52,000 Germans and took 11,000 prisoners, other Soviet sources claim 57,000 killed and 18,000 prisoners - with Soviet casualty numbers officially unpublished. The high numbers given are attributed by sources to the erroneous Soviet belief that all German units were at their full establishment and that most of the German 8th Army was trapped. German accounts state that the under 60,000 men originally inside the cauldron had shrunk in heavy fighting to less than 50,000 by 16 February, that 45,000 took part in the breakout and "that 27,703 German soldiers and 1,063 Russian auxiliaries had broken out unscathed. In addition 7,496 wounded" got through to III Panzerkorps plus the 4,161 wounded previously evacuated from the cauldron by air, leaving behind a total of 19,000 dead, wounded, captured or missing. Douglas E. Nash’s Appendix 7 “German Present for Battle Unit Strengths after the Breakout” in Hell’s Gate lists per unit survivors, with total escapees of 40,423, including the wounded flown out of the pocket and evacuated from Lysyanka. By 19 February III Panzerkorps began a pullback from the Lysyanka salient; it was assumed that no more soldiers from Gruppe Stemmermann would be rescued.

General Stemmermann died fighting among his rear guard. Gen. Lieb survived the war and died in 1981. The commander of 2nd Ukrainian Front, Gen. Konev, was made a Marshal of the Soviet Union for his great victory. Gen. Vatutin was shot by Ukrainian Nationalist UPA insurgents on 28 February 1944 and died on 15 April 1944.