The Crimean Offensive (8 April - 12 May 1944) — known in German sources as the Battle of the Crimea — was a series of offensives by the Red Army in the effort to liberate Crimea from the German Wehrmacht occupation. The Red Army's 4th Ukrainian Front engaged the German 17th Army of Army Group A, which consisted of German and Romanian formations, in an operation to liberate the Crimean peninsula. The result of the battle was complete victory for the Red Army, and a botched evacuation effort across the Black Sea, leading to significant German and Romanian losses.
Setting the stage 
During late 1943 and early 1944, the Wehrmacht was pressed back along its entire frontline in the east. In October 1943, the 17th Army (Army Group A) was forced to retreat from the Kuban bridgehead across the Kerch Strait to Crimea. During the following months, the Red Army pushed back the Wehrmacht in southern Ukraine, eventually cutting off the land-based connection of 17th Army through the Perekop Isthmus in November 1943.
Progress of the battle 
Soviet landings across the Kerch Strait and in the north-eastern sector of the Crimea near Sivash at the end of 1943 set the stage for the liberation of the Crimea from the Germans. For nearly 5 months, the Soviets turned their attention away from the Crimea, instead focusing on pushing Army Group South out of Ukraine, which they were able to do with the highly successful Lower Dnieper and Dnieper-Carpathian Offensives.
Von Kleist was removed from command of Army Group A in March, 1944. There was no successor that replaced him. From then on Erwin Jaenicke theoretically controlled both 17th Army and Army Group A, though by this time the army group only consisted of the 17th Army.
An assault across the Perekop Isthmus was launched on 8 April by elements of the 4th Ukrainian Front's 2nd Guards and 51st Armies. The 17th Army fought well but was unable to stop the advance. Kerch was liberated by the Separate Coastal Army on 11 April; Simferopol, about 37 mi (60 km) northeast of Sevastopol, followed two days later. The 17th Army was retreating toward Sevastopol by 16 April, with remaining Axis forces in the Crimea concentrating around the city by the end of the third week of April.
- "At Sevastopol stands the Seventeenth Army, and at Sevastopol, the Soviets will bleed to death."
- -Generaloberst Erwin Jaenicke''
The OKH intended to hold Sevastopol as a fortress, as the Red Army had done during the first battle for the Crimea in 1941-1942. However, inadequate preparations made a prolonged defence impossible against the rapid Soviet advance. Fighting broke out in the city outskirts towards the end of April and the city fell on 9 May, less than a month after the start of the offensive. The Axis sea evacuation to Constanța was attacked by Soviet land-based bombers. The last Axis pockets in the Crimea were destroyed on 12 May.
In a meeting with Adolf Hitler in Berchtesgaden, Jaenecke had insisted that Sevastopol should be evacuated and his cut off Army of 235,000 men withdrawn. After the loss of the Crimea, he was held responsible, arrested in Romania and court-martialed. Only the intervention of Heinz Guderian saved his life. He was dismissed from the army on 31 January 1945.
The German and Romanian formations suffered very high irrecoverable losses of 97,000 men, many of whom drowned during the evacuation. The sinking of the Totila and Teja on 10 May alone caused up to 10,000 deaths. Soviet losses were slightly lower. The table below is based on information from Glantz/House When Titans Clashed.:
Killed and missing: 31,700
Killed and missing: 25,800
Killed and missing: 57,500
Soviet losses (according to Krivosheev):
Killed and missing: 17,754
Formations and units involved 
- 4th Ukrainian Front
- Black Sea Fleet
- Separate Coastal Army
- Soviet partisans
- Romanian Mountain Corps
- 1st Mountain Division
- 2nd Mountain Division
- Pickert, W. Vom Kuban-Brueckenkopf bis Sewastopol - Flakartillerie im Verband der 17. Armee'
- Glantz, David M. & House, Jonathan (1995). When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0899-0.
- Ziemke, E.F. 'Stalingrad to Berlin'
- Müller, Rolf-Dieter. Der letzte deutsche Krieg 1939-1945. Stuttgart 2005. ISBN 3-608-94133-9
External sources 
- Fortress Crimea - A Romanian View
- Last Stand in Crimea - A Romanian View
- "Operation 60,000" Evacuation from Crimea - a Romanian View
- Soldiers of the Great War
- Link to external map of Eastern Front
- Retaking the Crimea