The reenactment of the start of the military Operation Little Saturn took place in Voronezh on the bank of the water reservoir, opposite the Diorama Museum, on Sunday, January 26. Thanks to the warm weather, it gathered a record number of spectators: according to one of the reenactment organizers, the head of the Nabat (Alarm Bell) Club Yevgeny Ishutin, over 10 thousand people came to see the battle.
“As a result of Operation Little Saturn, in December 1942, a huge amount of German forces was destroyed, which in particular led to the beginning of the defeat of the 8th Italian army. This operation led to the liberation of Voronezh and our entire region from the Nazi invaders, this is the beginning of the Voronezh-Kharkiv offensive operation. Another reason we chose this was this particular episode for the reenactment is that Voronezh was visited by about 30 Italians who study history back home, investigate the facts of Italians participating in World War II and reenact war events. Today they took part in the reenactment. In total, it involved more than 300 people from 39 clubs, who came from 23 cities of Russia, Belarus, and Italy,” said Dmitry Kravchenko, a representative of the Nabat Club.
The number of participants in the reenactment, as well as spectators, became record-breaking.
The action began at 14:00 and lasted about 40 minutes. The combat episodes involved 10 units of military equipment: a Katyusha rocket launcher, a BA-64 armored car, a T-70 tank, a 45 mm anti-tank gun, an Opel Blitz truck, a Pak 36-37 anti-tank gun a 75 mm leIG 18 gun. The sounds of the battle were imitated with blank shots, explosions of firecrackers and practice grenades. The trenches were clouded with clouds of smoke.
Claudio Cassol, an Italian participant in the reenactment, creates special effects for films. According to him, the shooting and explosions were simulated very realistically, but the background “battle music” from the speakers was unnecessary.
The performance was divided into several episodes. At first, the units of the Red Army that had crossed the Don pursued the formations of the Wehrmacht, the 8th Italian Army and the 2nd Hungarian Army, which, retreating, took civilians with them as a cover. Soviet intelligence officers attacked the escorts, which led to a battle, as a result of which the civilians were recaptured. Then the Germans ordered their retreating allies to stop and detain the advancing units of the Red Army. The Red Army started an attack, and the audience witnessed many battle clashes.
The decisive blow to the enemy was made by Katyusha, after which the Red Army units launched an offensive across the entire front. The Katyusha involved in the reconstruction is an original rocket launcher assembled at the Komintern Plant, it has been participating in reenactments for over 10 years.
In each episode, the organizers explained what was happening on the "battlefield" in detail. Spectator Svetlana Kolyadkina, who came to the reenactment with her son Maxim, noted that the comments coming from the speakers made the action much more understandable:
“This is the third time we’ve been to a reenactment, and comments are a good idea. Unfortunately, we, like many others, do not know history well, and this is a wonderful event that helps explain to a child what happened during the war. Of course, Maxim is only four years old, but he was very engaged.”
Maxim, who watched the battle from the first row, admitted that the explosions did not frighten him, but he "was afraid that our troops would be defeated". When they triumphed, the children unitedly picked up the “Hurray!” shout after the reenactors.
Luca Tassara, a member of an Italian club of reenactors and a forester by profession, told that his grandfather fought in Russia, but the commanders sent him home, and all his comrades had died.
“We are passionate about history and came here to experience what our ancestors had experienced. Many of us have lost relatives in the war. The fascist regime had killed a lot of people. One hundred thousand soldiers participated in these battles, and we would like to know what was here, on our example. There are many historical sources from which you can find out what weapons the Italians used, what things they wore: shoes, helmets, even glasses. But there are very few events like this one, and we are trying to take part in them,” added Luca Tassara.
Reenactors from the Tambovsky Rubezh (Tambov Frontier) Club came to Voronezh for the fourth time.
“There are 12 of us who came from Tambov. Each time, the preparations for the reenactment become more and more serious - for example, all the recommendations on uniforms and the scenario were posted on the Internet in advance. For each unit, actions are developed to be supervised by the commander. We repelled the German attack. Of course, there is always room for improvisation, and only life will show who will be injured in battle and who will be killed,” said club member Maxim Mitrofanov.
Nadezhda Safonova from the Sorokopyatka (Forty-Five Millimeter Gun) Club is a reenactment “veteran”: she has been participating in reenactments of military events for 16 years. But the battle for Voronezh evokes her strongest emotions every time:
“We always prepare each episode thoroughly, but I am still very worried – let alone the "civilians" who are participating for the first time! Tears and nervous tremors happen. And I get scared too, despite the understanding that these events took place a long time ago.
The head of the Nabat public organization Yevgeny Ishutin noted that this was the warmest day in all 12 years of reenactments, and due to the lack of snow it was impossible to use white camouflage uniforms for scouts.
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RIA Voronezh note for information
Offensive operation Little Saturn was held on December 16-30, 1942 by the forces of the South-West front and the left flank of the Voronezh Front. The Red Army broke through the enemy’s defenses and defeated the main forces of the 8th Italian Army, the Hollidt Task Force and the 3rd Romanian Army. The Wehrmacht used up the forces intended to attack Stalingrad, and the destruction of the Italian army on the Don led to a sharp deterioration in relations between Italy and Germany. The fascist regime in Italy had staggered.
Operation Little Saturn led to a 340-km-wide breach through the enemy front on the Voronezh land. Voronezh was liberated on January 25, 1943, after 212 days of fierce fighting. 26 German divisions, the 2nd Hungarian Army, the 8th Italian Army and the Romanian units were completely defeated. About 400 thousand Soviet soldiers died in the battles.