While conditions allowed in the south of the Soviet Union, the German Army Group South continued to push forward at a rapid rate, causing surprise and alarm amongst the defenders. Kurt Meyer was still leading his Reconnaisance Battalion and describes how the large industrial city of Mariupol was taken on the 9th October:
In contrast to other Soviet towns, high, multi-story buildings were on the outskirts of Mariupol. As there had not even been a single tree or a small cottage up to then, the sudden change was intimidating, even oppressive.
The lead elements halted after the initial high-rises and started to advance like infantry. I also wanted to jump from my armored car and take full cover. The high walls threatened to crush us.
I was then dragged back out of my thoughts as Peter tore into a round plaza. SS-Hauptscharfuhrer Fritz Biigelsack was suddenly to our left. Streetcars were moving towards us. Trucks, prime movers, horse teams and thousands of people enlivened the large circular plaza.
Our armored car was suddenly in front of a fire department ladder truck that had got itself stuck in the confusion.
Explosive rounds from Bugelsack’s armored car ripped the vehicles apart. The machine-gun fire from the Kradschutzen echoed gruesomely over the square. Burning soldiers leapt from the ladder truck and ran across the broad plaza like torches. A fuel drum had been hit and the explosion had set dozens of men on fire.
A panic-stricken mass of humanity stormed into the side streets, trampling anything in its way underfoot.
Out of breath, we continued to advance and block the roads. We were yelling and screaming. Rounds from our assault guns then began to land in the overcrowded streets. The columns pushing into the town were ripped apart All semblance of order in the Soviet columns had been lost.
We swarmed through the streets like locusts and tried to reach the road to Rostow.