Left to Right: Colonel-General Ivan Mefodevich Managarov (1898-1981), commander of the 53rd Army, reports to General Ivan Stepanovich Konev (December 28, 1897-May 21, 1973), commander of the Steppe Front, and Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov (December 1, 1896-June 18, 1974) to receive instructions for Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev ("Regiment leader Rumyantsev," after 18th-century Field Marshal Peter Rumyantsev) to liberate Belgorod and Kharkov. This was part of the counteroffensive after the Battle of Kursk in July 1943. The 53rd Army was subordinated to and "formed the shock group" of the Steppe Front. They were tasked not only with liberating Kharkov, but with eliminating the German units 4.PanzerArmee and Army Group Kempf. Konev and Managarov liberated Kharkov on August 23, 1943 and inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans. Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev marked the first time in the war that the Germans were not able to defeat a major Soviet offensive during the summer months and regain their lost ground and the strategic initiative. While Zhukov was overseeing the preparations for the Steppe Front Offensive, he met with General Managarov. "He made a very good impression on me," Zhukov says, "even thought I had to spend a lot of time explaining the operation to him. But when the work was done, he took an accordion and beautifully played some very lively things that immediately made us feel a great deal fresher. I looked at him and though to myself: soldiers love such merry commanders and will follow them through fire and water. I thanked Managarov...and expressed the hope that he would play the artillery overture for the Germans just as well." Later, Zhukov and Konev would make separate offensives to take Germany's capital, Berlin. Zhukov and Konev were friendly rivals, sometimes looking out for each other, as Zhukov did when he prevented Stalin from executing Konev in 1941; other times they were highly critical of each other. Both suffered humiliating demotions after World War II when Soviet Premier Josef Stalin grew jealous of their popularity.