In August 1941, residents of Shostka felt that the war was far away. In the north, fighting took place in Belarus in the Moscow direction, in the west – on the other bank of Dnieper around Kiev.
Therefore, when Guderian’s 2nd Panzer Group turned sharply south from the Moscow direction to surround the troops of the Southwestern Front defending Kiev, Shostka found itself in the way of this Wehrmacht offensive.
The fighting in the Shostka district began on the night of August 25, 1941, when about a hundred paratroopers were dropped by German aircraft over the meadows along the Ivotka River. The 2nd Fighter Battalion, formed of the residents of the village of Kapsul and led by Stepan Yeresey, met them face on and managed to detain them for some time. Neither did this landing group succeed in carrying out a diversion on the railroad for they were discovered by Shostka patrol.
German troops entered Shostka region from Novgorod-Siversky. The strike group of Baron Levinsky was able to penetrate the rear of the 143rd Infantry Division defending Novgorod-Siversky and seize the bridge and the base near Ostroushki village. In the battle for the bridge, 28 Red Army soldiers were killed, including Lieutenant Vasily Kozynets.
On the night of August 27, in the village of Ivot, Nazis overtook a unit of the 143rd Division retreating from Ostroushki village and a group of the Shostka militia. Rifles against tanks were powerless, so almost all of the Soviet soldiers lay their lives in the streets and orchards of Ivot. At 8 in the morning, Germans entered Shostka, seized the territory of the Powder and Capsule Plants and the village of Kapsul. Commander of the 3rd Panzer Division, General Walter Model, arrived at the headquarters of the German group in Nekrasov street.
In the afternoon, German troops completed the capture of Shostka. One of the strike groups seized the Tereshchenskaya railway station, the other hit the rear of the defenders of Pirogovka village.
The fighting in the Shostka region continued for another week. The most significant battles took place on the Esman River, where the 28th Motorized Rifle Regiment of NKVD held defense from August 29 to September 2, 1941. The fate of German officer Joachim Vainschenko, who was seriously injured and died in the hospital of Shostka on September 24, confirms serious fighting that took place in the region. His relatives searched for his burial place in 2011 and passed some materials from their family archive to the museum.
More on this topic can be found in S.A. Shishkov’s book The Ottoman Epic, 2012.