Velikie Luki, a small town near Kalinin in North Russia saw some very fierce fighting at the same time when the ferocious Battle of Stalingrad raged in the south. Velikiye Luki ("Great Bow or Bend" in Russian) was important for the Russians because it lay on the railway line that linked the German Army North and Army Centre.
The small garrison of Germans in the town was surrounded by the Russians and the ensuing fighting was as fierce as that at Stalingrad. The town fell to the Russians in January 1943.
In the wet snows of late November 1942, the Soviet army struck at the thinly manned German front lines north and south of the city on the river, surrounding the vital supply center and trapping its garrison while threatening to cut off and encircle an entire German army group. Adolf Hitler forbade a breakout and ordered that the surrounded troops be supplied by air. Relief attacks never quite had the necessary strength to break through the encircling Russians, and by late January 1943 the city was again in Russian hands, the German defenders either dead or taken prisoner. The encirclement of Velikiye Luki bore a strong resemblance to the well-known Nazi debacle that was unfolding at the same time at Stalingrad.
The Soviet offensive began on November 24, with strong forces moving on Velikiye Luki from north and south, bypassing the screen of fortified positions in a semicircular arc east of the city. Encountering only scattered resistance and racing through the snow, by nightfall the Soviets had Velikiye Luki nearly surrounded. The German units dug in along the Kuban Stream were overrun so quickly that the Soviets were able to launch attacks against the city proper the next day. The attackers, however, were repulsed with heavy losses. More assaults came on the 26th, but again the Germans held. Russian attacks came almost daily in the following seven weeks. Although the Germans inflicted ruinous losses on the enemy, their own casualties mounted. On the 27th, the Soviet 357th Rifle Division completed the encirclement of the city. The last telephone call into Sass' headquarters came that day. From then on, communication with the trapped defenders was by radio only.
THE RUSSIANS DEALT WITH THE GERMAN POW RUTHLESSLY AFTER THE BATTLE