The Battle of Rostov was a World War II battle fought between the German 11th Army (reinforced by the 3rd Romanian Army), from Army Group South, and the Soviet 9th and 18th armies. It took place in Rostov, close to the Sea of Azov, in the Soviet Union, from November 21 to November 27, 1941. The Battle of Rostov was Germany first military setback in the invasion of the Soviet Union and resulted in the resignation of Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt.
After the Battle of Kiev in September 1941, the German Army Group South, under the command of Gerd von Rundstedt, moved southward, from the Dniepr to the Sea of Azov coast, in a push for the oilfields of the Caucasus. Then, the German 11th Army’s 1rst Panzer Group, commanded by Ewald von Kleist, and the Romanian 3rd army, attacked east along the shore of the Sea of Azov toward Rostov at the mouth of the Don river, which was known as the gateway to the Caucasus.
In November, 1941, Rostov was defended by the Soviet 9th Army. The assault on Rostov began on the November 17, and after a fierce battle, the city was taken by the Germans on November 21, 1941. But as the River Don was frozen hard, the Soviets were able to cross the ice and establish two bridgeheads, from which they launched a counterattack, while other Soviet units maneuvered to the flanks and began to attack the German supply lines. The commander of Army Group South, Gerd von Rundstedt, ordered Ewald von Kleist to abandon the city of Rostov on November 29. Then Hitler countermanded the withdrawal and ordered to stand firm. But von Kleist had already fallen back to a better defensive position. Becaused he had contradicted Hitler, von Rundstedt was dismissed from his command and replaced with General Walther von Reichenau.