The disaster of Stalingrad profoundly shocked the German people and armed forces alike...Never before in Germany's history had so large a body of troops come to so dreadful an end."
General Siegfried von Westphal - 1943
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Apart from this bombastic tripe, Hitler had only one thing left to offer the doomed men of 6th Army. With an unprecedented show of generosity, he presented dozens of senior officers of 6th Army with promotions in rank, most notably a Field Marshal's baton for Friedrich Paulus. There was a cynical method to his madness, as Hitler mentioned to Gen. Zeitzler that in the entire history of the German Army no Field Marshal had ever surrendered or been captured alive. If he couldn't have the prize of the city that bore Stalin's name, he was determined to have a dead Field Marshal to offer up as a hero to the German Reich.
Paulus was not so accommodating as to throw himself on his own funeral pyre. The very next day, Soviet forces closed in on his last command post, a cellar in the bombed out ruins of the Univermag Department Store in downtown Stalingrad. Unshaven, dirty and close to a state of collapse, Friedrich Paulus offered his surrender to an obscure Russian Lieutenant named Fyodor Yelchenko, who promptly marched the new Field Marshal and his staff off to his superiors. Of the nearly 350,000 men who had followed him to Stalingrad, only 90,000 survived to surrender to the Soviets.
At the southern end of the city, the Luftwaffe liaison officer with 24th Panzer Division wrote: 'The defenders have concentrated and fortified themselves in the sections of the town facing our attacks. In parkland, there are tanks or just tank turrets dug-in, and anti-tank guns concealed in the cellars make it very hard going for our advancing tanks.'
The Russians, despite all their air activity over the Kessel, still did not realize how large a force they had surrounded. Colonel Vinogradov, the chief of Red Army intelligence at Don Front headquarters, esti- mated that Operation Uranus had trapped around 86,000 men. The probable figure, including allies and Hiwis, was nearly three and a half times greater: close to 290,000 men. The allies included the remnants of two Romanian divisions, the Croat regiment with 100th Jäger Division and a motor-transport column of Italians who had picked a bad moment to come to find wood in the ruins of Stalingrad.
An aerial view of Stalingrad in August 1942. This shot was taken from a German bomber and shows a railway station in the city in flames.
German infantry and assault guns in position to attack the height 102 between the city center and the industrial area Barikady. September 1942
German soldiers with flame-throwers. September 1942
Germans moving through the ruins of a factory
A view of the broken city from a German reconnaissance plane
At midday on 2 February a Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft circled over the city. The pilot's radio message was immediately passed to Field Marshal Milch: 'No more sign of fighting in Stalingrad'.
A Russian unit on a combat mission
While the Germans were running out of supplies in the freezing winter, the Russians were well-fed and full of fight
Russian soldiers go on the offensive at Stalingrad. Winter 1942-1943. Notice the frozen dead German soldier.
The Germans were hungry and ill-clothed. Many froze to death
-Alexander Werth, in Stalingrad, February 1943
Those who lived were in a bad shape, with no medical treatment
These men were lucky (or were they?) to stay alive
Wreck of men who were once part of a proud German Sixth Army
THE PLIGHT OF THE GERMAN POW
STALINGRAD: A FATEFUL SIEGE
STALINGRAD Antony Beevor
The best story was of a Russian commander holding out with his men in a factory. They were almost out of ammo and had bricks to throw at the enemy. For some reason the Russian commanders had given them up for dead so to get their comrades attention and to let them know they were alive they needed a red flag to let hang from the building. They had nothing but a bloody vest from a wounded comrade to use! The whole story of their survival in the building outnumbered with no ammunition is AMAZING!
Craig, William. Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad
Holl, Adelbert. AN Infantryman In Stalingrad: From 24 September 1942 to 2 February 1943.
Jones, Michael K. Stalingrad: How the Red Army Survived the German Onslaught.
Roberts, Geoffrey. Victory at Stalingrad: The Battle that Changed History.
MacDonald, John. Great Battles of World War II.