"The Defense of Sevastopol", 1942. Alexander Deyneka.
On 22 June 1941 the Axis invaded the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa. Axis land forces reached the Crimea in the autumn of 1941 and overran most of the area. The only objective not in Axis hands was Sevastopol.
After the failure of their first assault on Sevastopol, the Axis opted to conduct siege warfare until the middle of 1942, at which point they attacked the encircled Soviet forces by land, sea, and air.
Finally, on 4 July 1942, the remaining Soviet forces surrendered and the Axis seized the port. Both sides had suffered considerable losses during the siege and attack.
Soviet accounts claim that there were very few Soviet troops who survived the German onslaught; Von Manstein himself records that the Soviets preferred to blow themselves up along with the German soldiers closing in on their positions rather than surrender. Von Manstein ascribed this behavior to the ruthlessness of the “commissars” and to the basic “contempt for human life of this Asiatic power”. Another explanation for the Soviet unwillingness to surrender was the understandable fear Soviet servicemen had for their treatment if they were taken as prisoners of war by the Wehrmacht.