The Battle Of Stalingrad lasted from July 17, 1942 to February 2, 1943. Two million Germans and Russians died. The entire city was destroyed. So was the myth of invincibility of the German War Machine
1942. Germans close into Stalingrad
At Stalingrad the Russians' resistance hardened with repeated hammering, while the directness, an consequent obviousness, of the German attacks there simplified the Russian Higher Command's problem in meeting the threat. The Germans' concentration at Stalingrad also, and increasingly, drained reserves from their flank-cover, which was already strained by having to stretch so far, nearly 400 miles from Voronezh along the Don to the point where it nears the Volga at Stalingrad, and as far again from there to the Terek in the Caucasus. A realisation of the risks led the German General Staff to tell Hitler in August that it would be impossible to hold the line of the Don as a defensive flank, during the winter, but the warning was ignored by him in his obsession with capturing Stalingrad.
Stalingrad is burning. The Luftwaffe is bombing the city constantly. In the steppe some 40km away from Stalingrad, people can read newspapers by the intensive fire in the city.
At Stalingrad, 6th Army still can't break out. Soviet 62nd Army evades the closing trap.
Josef Stalin sends a message ordering Zhukov to counterattack
The German 6th Army, now united on a wide front, from Rynok to Pitomnik, west of Stalingrad, begins the direct assault on the city. Zhukov launches a counterattack from the north of Stalingrad, into 14th Panzer Corps with First Guards Army, but the attack is slow to form, as some units are not in position at "H" hour, and achieves only a minor advance in some areas.
In Stalingrad, General. Alexander Lopatin, commanding the 62nd Army is fired by Yeremenko.
Lopatin thinks that it is unpossible to hold the city.
Again the Luftwaffe is bombing the city. Thousands of civilians are killed. Others are escaping
over the Volga river by rescue boats. The Lufwaffe is attacking these boats too.
The Soviet air force was not capable to stop the murdering attacks of the Luftwaffe.
A new Russian counterattack is unleashed north of Stalingrad. Unable to break through the
German lines, the Russians nevertheless continue to apply pressure in the area for two full weeks, drawing off German strength from the center of the city.
The German Panzers are losing their mobility when they are entering the city.
They are easy targets for the Russian resistance. For the Germans it seems that what happened before in Rostov will happen again. Fighting for every street and building.
Panzers are useless in street fighting.
Hitler is getting nervous. He declares that the city needs to be taken against September 15th.
Paulus tells his chief of Staff, Schmidt, that 6th army is not strong enough to take the city.
In a few days Paulus will meet Hitler then he'll ask Hitler for reinforcements.
In the south of Stalingrad General Hoth is advancing to the city. Several commanders and officers of the Red Army are deserting, or escaping behind the Volga. The troops left behind were taken as prisoners by the Germans. The morale of the Red Army troops and their commanders fighting in and around Stalingrad is bad. Stalin wants to make an end to this situation.
The right wing of General Hoth's 4th Paznzer Army reached the Volga,at Koeporosoye, thereby achieving one of the initial objectives set out in Directive No.41.
Paulus, commander of the 6th Army meets Hitler in Vinnitsa.
Hitler is furious that the city isn't captured yet. Again he orders that the city must be taken against September 15th.
Stalin meets Zhukov and Yeremenko meets Chuikov.Stalin orders Zhukov to prepare plans for a counter offensive.Yeremenko and Kruchev orders Chuikov to take command of the 62nd Army.
Paulus and von Weichs are telling Hitler that the leftflank of 6th Army is too weak.
Hitler is telling that he is aware of this problem and that he will handle it soon.
Hitlers orders Paulus to attack the city tomorrow.
Marshal Zhukov reports in Moscow to Josef Stalin on his plan for Stalingrad. As long as
an active defense can be maintained in the city, he says, large reserve forces can be massed to the north and southeast, to mount a counteroffensive against the German flank, cutting the
umbilical cord of supplied and reinforcements, encircling the Germans. The attack would hammer weak Rumanian, Hungarian, and Italian divisions, Zhukov says, and would have to be made only when adequate preparations are completed, in mid-November. Stalin is skeptical, but wants to hear more.
Sixth Army begins its assault into Stalingrad. Five divisions attack along a five mile wide front into the center of the city, in an effort to split the defense. They make only slight progress against ferocious Russian resistance, fighting the battle on Chuikov’s terms instead of Hoth’s.
During the nights, the Russians are able to ferry men and supplies across the Volga, into the
city at any one of a number of crossing points. Powerful as Sixth Army is; it does not have the strength to attack with armored spearheads in maneuvering battles as was the case a year ago.
The simultaneous attack into the Caucasus has left the Germans in both areas fighting toe to toe with the enemy, simply because they cannot be kept supplied and defend themselves while still attacking with their reduced strike forces. Each and every night, fresh troops trickle in to Chuikov from across the Volga. Combined with air and artillery support from the east side of the river, it is hoped that 62nd Army will hold out long enough to allow Zhukov to mass forces on the flanks of the city.
The Romanian Third Army reaches the outskirts of Stalingrad. Covering the long left wing of
6thArmy, the Romanians are thinly deployed. The fight for the city on the Volga is now a house to house slugging match, with the 48th Panzer Corps in between the 62nd and 64th Armies. Amid the debris of the city, the Russian defenders adopt fast moving, small unit tactics.
The Germans dub the fighting at Stalingrad the "Rattenkrieg" or Rats War.
In the early morning the 13th Guards division is crossing the Volga.
Heavy fighting in the city when 24th Panzer Division "meets" the 13th Guards Army near Stalingrad station 1 The Germans driving the Soviets out but the Russians recapture it.
Heavy fighting on Hill 102, Mamjev Kurgan and again near Station 1. 13th Guards that crossed the Volga the day before yesterday is whiped out. Both sides suffering heavy losses.
Heavy fighting near the grain elevator. The Russians won't surrender. But the Red Army
can not hold the building.
Again, Zhukov launches a counterattack into the northern flank of 6th Army. Positioning his First Guards Army against the German 8th Infantry Corps, he hopes to break through what appears to be a weak point in the line. It is actually only a forward position, and the attack runs headlong into very strong German defenses further back from the initial battle lines.
As in the past, the fruitless attacks serve more to siphon off German resources that would have otherwise been employed against Chuikov’s men. Thousands of Soviets are killed in the attacks, which continue for several days.
The Russian suffering heavy casualties when they try to drive the Germans away from Mamajev Kurgan. (Hill 102) The Russian counterattack that started yesterday is a complete failure.
Heavy fighting is reported near and in the grain elevator. Germans and Russians are so close to each other that they hear each other's breathing.
The Germans captured the elevator today.
The elevator was held by 30 Guards and 18 marine soldiers.
....and then again dad, we heard the ominous sounds of tanks. From behind a neighbouring block stocky German tanks began to crawl out. This clearly was the end. We said goodbye to
one another. With a dagger I scratched on a brick wall :'Rodimtsev's guardsmen fought and
died for their country here.' The tanks pushed the walls of the building (grain elevator) down.
That night 5 other Guardsmen and myself, all wounded, got out of the building. We staggered toward the Volga. We ran into a patrol and were lighted by German flares and discovered.
But the silent knifing of a German guard got us away unmolested. We encountered another patrol, and I knifed silently a German. We crossed the railroad line, went through a minefield and reached the Volga. We built a raft of pieces of wood from the wreckage of a building.
We went into the Volga, where we drifted for several days until we were rescued.
Paulus decided to create a Stalingrad armshield with the grain elevator on.
This in honour to the Germans who lost their lives during the battle. Paulus was thinking, after he captured the elevator, that the Russian would give up defending the city.
The southern part of Stalingrad is in German hands. Hitler declares that the battle for Stalingrad will be over soon. The Russian morale is low. A new Division (Siberian) crossed the Volga.
A new counter-attack by the Siberian Division stopped the German advance, trying to push the Russians into the direction of the banks of the Volga. Although the small succes of the counter-attack 62th Army of Chuikov is split in two.
The Germans launch yet another offensive in the Caucasus, Operation Attica, hoping to drive
along the Black Sea shore through Tuapse, to Sochi, Suchumi, and Batum.
Hitler is furious again, he does not understand why Paulus's 6th Army hasn't captured the city of Stalingrad yet. Paulus says that his army is exhausted.
Hitler fires his Chief of Staff Franz Halder who keeps Hitler reminding that the splitting up of Army Group South in two parts was a tactical mistake.
Halder is replaced by Zeitzler.
He also fires two corps commanders, von Wietersheim and von Schwedtler. Hube takes over von Wietersheim's XIVth Panzer Corps and Jaenecke takes over IV Army Corps.
Hitlers tells Jodl that he will be fired too, and replaced by Paulus, when Stalingrad falls.
The fighting in the streets of the city goes on while both sides are sending reinforcements to the front.
A first Russian bridge over the Volga is ready. The bridge is build half a meter under water. This way it is not possible for the Luftwaffe to find and bomb the bridge.The bridges were used to send troops and heavy material over the Volga at night in preparation of Zukhov's great counteroffensive.
Heavy fighting in Stalingrad when the new German reinforcements arrivived and get throwed in the battle immediately. The Luftwaffe is bombing. A oil reservoir is hit by the Luftwaffe.
Because of the smoke of the burning oil is over the city the Luftwaffe has to stop the bombing.
The German swastika is on the captured Communist Party building.
Mamejev Kurgan, hold by the Germans is attacked by the Russians. They want to re-capture
the hill. The hill gives a view over the city and Volga and very useful for the German artillery.
Who controls the hill, controles the city. The Russians, knowing the importance of the hill, fired constantly on the hill from the other side of the Volga. So the hill became not that useful for the German artillery.
While German troops are attacking the Red October factory the Russian counter attack on Mamajev hill fails.
The Soviet High Command reorganizes the armies in the south. The Stalingrad Front is redesignated the Don Front, and its lines are shortened by the creation of a new Southwest
Front on the western side of Don Front’s line. Don Front is commanded by Rokkosovsky,
who loses the mauled 1st Guards Army to be refitted. Of his three remaining armies, Zhadov’s 66th Army is north of the city, along the Volga, nearest Rynok. West of these are Galinin’s 24th Army, and Batov’s 65th Army near Kletskaya, on the Don. West of Don Front, the new Southwest Front, under General Vatutin, has Chistyakov’s 21st Army nearest Don Front’s 65th Army. Across the Don, on the southern bank in a bridgehead around Serafimovich, is the 5th Tank Army under Romanenko. On the far western end of the Front is a newly activated reserve Army, given the designation of 1st Guards Army under Lelyushenko. In the south, what had been Southeast Front is now redesignated Stalingrad Front. This newly designated unit, comprised of Chuikov’s 62nd, Shumilov’s 64th, Tolbukhin’s 57th and Trufanov’s 51st Armies, as well as a new unit; 28th Army, in the extreme south, are under Yeremenko’s direct control.