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Kholm Pocket

Kholm Pocket
Part of the Eastern Front of World War II
Kessel von Cholm - Karte.png
Date23 January – 5 May 1942
Result German defensive success
 Germany  Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Theodor Scherer Nikolai Vatutin
10 anti-tank guns
18 mortars
33rd rifle division
391st rifle division
20 tanks
Casualties and losses
1,500 killed
2,000 wounded
20,000 casualties

The Kholm Pocket (German: Kessel von Cholm; Russian: Холмский котёл) was the name given for the encirclement of German troops by the Red Army around Kholm south of Leningrad, during World War II on the Eastern Front, from 23 January 1942 until 5 May 1942. A much larger pocket was simultaneously surrounded in Demyansk, about 100 km (62 mi) to the northeast. These were the results of German retreat following their defeat during the Battle of Moscow.[1]

The air supply of Kholm and Demyansk, while successful, led to an overconfidence in the German High Command in regard to the Luftwaffe's ability to air supply encircled forces which would lead to disastrous consequences at the Battle of Stalingrad in late 1942 and early 1943.[2]


At the small Kholm pocket, 5,500 German soldiers held it for 105 days. The pocket was supplied by air, but was too small for planes to land; therefore, supplies had to be dropped in and recovered by the German defenders.[1] Among the airdropped supplies were 35 of the first 50 prototype MKb 42(H) rifles.[3]

The German units in the pocket were mainly part of:[4]

German forces made three attempts to relieve the pocket, in January, March and May 1942. While the first two failed the third one was successful, with the German forces in the pocket reduced in number to 1,200 by then.[1]

In July 1942, the Cholm Shield was awarded to the German defenders of the pocket, upon the suggestion of Generalmajor Theodor Scherer, similar to the Demyansk Shield.[1][4]

Scherer was personally awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves by Adolf Hitler for the command of the defense of Kholm.[1][4]

Kholm was eventually liberated by the Red Army on 21 February 1944.[1]

War crimes

Members of the Reserve-Polizei-Bataillon 65, a police unit from Gelsenkirchen, were questioned after the war by the state prosecutor in Dortmund for their involvement in ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe. The unit was found to have taken part in a minimum of 5,000 executions and a large number of deportations to concentration camps. Among them was also the hanging of a young girl in Kholm during the siege.[5]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Zabecki, p. 695–696
  2. ^ Bourne, p. 155–156
  3. ^ Rottman, Gordon. The AK-47: Kalashnikov-series assault rifles. Osprey Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-84908-835-0.
  4. ^ a b c Kholm Shield (in German), accessed: 16 December 2011
  5. ^ Reserve-Polizeibataillon 65 (mot) (in German), accessed: 16 December 2011


External links