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Manstein in 1943-1944 on the Dnieper

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So I've done a bit of reading about Army Group South as it retreated to the Dnieper and then battled away at Kiev and places like Fastov, Berdichev until Manstein was relieved. Now other accounts do say the Soviets rather beat up on AGS during the time thus paving the way for the surprise against AGC.

I was also surprised to see that the Soviets really did punch back AGS alot in terms of territory (one can see that comparing the June 1942 line with the June 1944 line (pre-Bagration).

Despite this, and let us for the moment attempt to discount for the various stand fast orders from above which created things like Korsun and the 1st Panzer army getting cut-off, but were these late 1943-1944 battles considered a defensive success for Manstein (i.e. when given freedom to do what he wanted after Kursk, was he able to wage the defensive battle properly and perhaps if allowed to do so would the start lines at Bagration been different along with the available forces on both sides (e.g. the hypothesis might be, if Manstein, given the operational freedom, the net line might have been further east than it was at Bagration, with more German troops and equipment and perhaps less soviets to face them)?


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