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The Liberation of Odessa: Armies Performing as a Unified Front


Pictured: Colonel-General V. I. Chuikov outside of Odessa, Ukraine on 7 April 1944; Marshal Chuikov with Marshal of Aviation V. A. Sudets in Odessa for the 30th anniversary of the liberation, 10 April 1974.


Examining social science theories through a historical lens is not a novel undertaking. However, embarking on a comprehensive study of a Soviet Marshal’s life, work, and experience to explore the application of such theories is a unique approach—and one which is personally rewarding. My dream is to publish one day, and this blog serves as a channel to share and organize researched content.


One of the first social science concepts I had the opportunity to teach at the college level is Tuckman’s Linear Model of Group Development. There are various stages to team development and cohesion—forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. While the forming stage is self-explanatory, the storming stage describes intra-group conflict. If team members can work through the struggle and congeal, they move to the norming stage where everyone is in one accord. Next, a unified group can perform very well, often having a synergistic effect (synergy – the outcome is greater than the sum of the parts). When performance is complete, the members adjourn to take on new tasks.


In his book titled From Stalingrad to Berlin, Vasily Ivanovich shared how the numerous armies within the 3rd Ukrainian Front solidified into a unified performing force to triumph over a stubborn enemy. Their combined efforts led to the liberation of Odessa, a city in Ukraine which was subjected to Axis control from 1941 until 1944 by German and Romanian troops.

“On 6 April [1944] the troops of the 8th Guards Army, having overcome rivers and estuaries, countless small bays and bays, approached the last Khadzhibey estuary in front of Odessa in the Belka, Staraya Vandalinovka sector. The German command had every reason to expect that it was here that it would be possible to delay the crossing of our troops, gain some time and organize the defense of Odessa. The narrowest part of the estuary was 800 meters, [with a] depth reaching two meters. The enemy could organize a defense on the right bank. [But] the troops of the 8th Guards Army managed to get ahead of the enemy and cross the estuary on the move.


The gates to Odessa were open, [and] the mechanized cavalry group of I. A. Pliev came steeply to the right at that time, overhanging Odessa from the northwest. The right-wing of the 3rd Ukrainian Front cut off the entire enemy grouping concentrated in the Odessa region.


The entire Odessa operation, undoubtedly, went down in history as one of the brilliant ones in terms of the excellent interaction of large military formations of the 3rd Ukrainian Front in it. Several armies acted in the same rhythm, in the same tempo, each in its own sector solving its own problem.


The 5th Shock and 6th Armies moved along the Black Sea coast. Their movement in itself - without a flank march covering the enemy by several of our other armies - would have been impossible. The enemy, fearing encirclement, retreated. The 5th Shock and 6th armies pressed on him, not giving him the opportunity to gain a foothold anywhere.


So, the troops of the front prepared for the assault on Odessa. Behind there were difficult battles and overcoming water obstacles, behind was the feat of soldiers and officers of several armies. The fighters were inspired to take part in the liberation of the last major city in Ukraine. And they went to a new feat.”

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