One of the most important defensive and offensive operations in the Great Patriotic War began on July 25th, exactly 74 ago. It was the Battle for the Caucasus. Conventionally, Caucasian events are divided into two periods. The first is from July 25th to December 31st, 1942 when Germans managed to capture a part of territory. The second period lasted from December 31st to October 9th 1943, when Soviet troops launched a counteroffensive operation, returned occupied lands and forced the German troops to retreat.
The meaning of the victory in the Caucasus is difficult to overestimate, as the loss of the region could turn the balance of the entire course of events in the Great Patriotic War to Hitler's side.
Senior fellow at the Center for Russian peoples' history and ethnic relations at the Institute of Russian History Andrey Marchukov noted in an interview with a ‘Vestnik Kavkaza’ correspondent that the North Caucasus was perceived by the German command as a continuation to the South direction after the Donbas and Rostov.
"First of all, Hitler was interested in the Caucasus from the viewpoint of oil reserves, as Germany and its allies really needed fuels and lubricants for the army, and for the entire national economy. Therefore, the Baku, Grozny and Maikop were in Hitler’s interest, as oil fields were well-developed there. If Hitler had received the Caucasus oil it would have dramatically worsened the situation of the Soviet Union and the Red army,’’ the historian told.
At the same time Marchukov draw his attention to the fact that in addition to the energy value, the Caucasus region was the ‘gateway’ to the South Caucasus, which opened the way to the Turkish borders.
"From the economic and military-strategic point of view, Kuban and the North Caucasus were of great interest to the Germans. It is no coincidence that in 1942 when Germany failed to conduct simultaneous offensive on three strategic directions and Hitler decided to concentrate his forces to hit in the south direction – Donbas, Rostov and escape to the vast steppes of Kuban and the Volga,’’ Marchukov explained.
It was extremely important to defend the region due to strategic importance of the Caucasus. In addition, the importance of the Caucasus increased from the energy viewpoint after the loss of Donbass, the expert said.
Considering the question of preserving the historical memory of the events that unfolded in the Caucasus ’74 Marchukov expressed the opinion that they should be in minds not only of a small group of people who are interested in these events, but also to be in the public discourse.
"We have to remember all the battles. It is especially important when some neighboring countries are trying to rewrite our shared history. Very little attention is paid to the Battle for the Dnieper and the liberation of Donbass in this context although in fact they were integral parts of the whole of the Great Patriotic War.