Odessa is the fourth largest city in Ukraine. The city is a major seaport and transportation hub located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. Odessa is also an administrative center of the Odessa Oblast and a multiethnic major cultural center.
In early August 1941, Odessa was attacked and besieged by Romanian forces fighting alongside their German allies. The fierce battle in defense of the city lasted until 16 October, when the remaining Soviet troops, as well as 15,000 civilians were evacuated by sea. Partisan fighting continued, however, in the city's catacombs. Odessa was awarded the title Hero City in 1945.