After a brief overview of the origins and development of the city of Odessa on the Black Sea Coast, author Nikolai Ovcharenko turns to its citizens' ordeal during the Second World War. In the process, he describes the heroism of the city's defenders and residents in the summer of 1941 on the land, sea and in the sky, when defending against insistent Romanian attacks. Exploiting the numerous estuaries on the Black Sea coastline, which served as natural defensive lines, under the weight of numerically superior Romanian forces, Odessa's defenders successively, fell back into the city of Odessa itself. Once the situation became critical, a valiant counterattack in part with naval infantry gained valuable space and time for Odessa. Eventually, at a time when German forces had advanced far to the east and were approaching the critical naval base of Sebastopol in the Crimea, the decision was made to evacuate the remaining Soviet forces from Odessa. There ensued more than two years of occupation and underground resistance; the partisans and activists made use of the extensive catacombs underneath the city of Odessa. The occupiers scored successes against the underground movement, which Ovcharenko details in succeeding chapters using contemporary newspapers and interviews with surviving eyewitnesses, but were never able to stamp out resistance completely. Finally, in the spring of 1944, Odessa was liberated by forces of the advancing Third Ukrainian Front. Ovcharenko describes this offensive against forces of the resurrected German Sixth Army.
Nikolai Ovcharenko is a Ukrainian military historian who researches the military traditions and the strategy and tactics employed by the defenders of Ukraine in various epochs. He was born on 23 July 1955 in Ukraine's Dnepropetrovsk Oblast. Ovcharenko is a graduate of Ukraine's Military Engineer Academy. Graduating as a lieutenant, he rose to the rank of colonel, serving primarily in the airborne forces. He is a veteran of the fighting in Afghanistan. Ovcharenko is now employed by Odessa's Military Historical Museum of the Operational Command. He is married and has three children. Ovcharenko's works are characterized by deep analysis and fresh assessments of historical events and personalities drawn from Ukraine's rich military history, from the time of the Scythians and the Zaporozh'e Cossacks to the Second World War and locals wars of the XX Century. The author pays particular attention to analyzing non-symmetrical warfare and the creative use of local conditions and resources by multi-service force grouping to achieve superiority over the enemy. In 2010-2015, the author's historical research generated lively interest at many international, national and regional academic military history conferences. In 2014, the Odessa publisher Atlant published Ovcharenko's comprehensive collection of historical research articles entitled Military art and traditions of the defenders of Odessa. Presently the author is researching the causes and dynamics of the development of armed conflicts and ways to resolve them in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, in accordance with the changes in global geopolitical processes and the status of a state's defensive capabilities. Stuart Britton is a freelance translator who resides in Cedar Rapids, IA. He is responsible for a growing number of translated Russian military memoirs, battle histories and operational studies, which saw an explosion in Russia with the opening of secret military archives and the emergence of new Russian scholars who take a more objective look at the events and historical figures. Two works that received prizes or prominent acclaim were Valeriy Zamulin's Demolishing a Myth: The Tank Battle at Prokhorovka, Kursk 1943 and Lev Lopukhovsky's The Viaz'ma Catastrophe, 1941: The Red Army's Disastrous Stand Against Operation Typhoon. Notable recent translations include Valeriy Zamulin's The Battle of Kursk: Controversial and Neglected Aspects and Igor Sdvizhkov's Confronting Case Blue:Briansk Front's Attempt to Derail the German Drive to the Caucasus, July 1942. Future translated publications include Nikolai Ovcharenko's analysis of the defense, occupation and liberation of Odessa, 1941-1944, and Zamulin's detailed study of 7th Guards Army's role and performance in the Battle of Kursk against Army Detachment Kempf.