During the freezing cold night of February 16, five divisions of General Hube's 1st SS Panzer Army, (54,000 men) including the 5th SS Division Viking and the Belgian Volunteer Brigade Wallonie, made a last desperate bid to break out of the Russian encirclement around the towns of Korsun and Shandrerovka in the lower Dnieper south-west of Kiev (Kyiv).
At 4am, elements of the 8th Army formed up into two marching columns of around 14,000 men each and flocked into two parallel ravines in the surrounding countryside, and where the two ravines met, the troops, now in complete disorder, then emerged into open country and headed out towards the town of Lysyanka. There, disaster struck as troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, under General Konev, were waiting.
Soon after 6am, the slaughter began. Soviet tanks drove into the two German columns crushing hundreds under their tracks. Fleeing in panic, the troops were then bombed and shelled before being confronted by units of Cossack cavalry who started hacking them to pieces with their sabres, There was no time to take prisoners and in the short space of three hours around 20,000 German soldiers lay dead, their bodies later dumped in holes dug in the ground.
The hundreds of wounded and medical personnel left behind were butchered by the Cossacks. Only a few officers survived, most had fled the scene by plane some days before. (Russian sources put the number of dead during the two weeks of fighting at over 70,000)
To reach Lysyanka the troops had first to cross the raging Gniloy-Tikich river. Reaching the opposite side many were transformed into blocks of ice their uniforms frozen to their bodies. About eight thousand others, who had fled the scene and were hiding in the woods, were rounded up during the next few days and taken prisoner. For this great victory, General Konev was awarded the title 'Marshal of the Soviet Union'.