Battle of Stalingrad

Battle of Stalingrad

Overview
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in which Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and its allies fought the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 for control of the city of Stalingrad
Volgograd
Volgograd , formerly called Tsaritsyn and Stalingrad is an important industrial city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is long, north to south, situated on the western bank of the Volga River...

 (now Volgograd
Volgograd
Volgograd , formerly called Tsaritsyn and Stalingrad is an important industrial city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is long, north to south, situated on the western bank of the Volga River...

) in southwestern Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943. It is the largest battle on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 and was marked by its brutality and disregard for military and civilian casualties
Civilian casualties
Civilian casualties is a military term describing civilian or non-combatant persons killed, injured, or imprisoned by military action. The description of civilian casualties includes any form of military action regardless of whether civilians were targeted directly...

. It is among the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with the higher estimates of combined casualties amounting to nearly two million.
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Encyclopedia
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in which Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and its allies fought the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 for control of the city of Stalingrad
Volgograd
Volgograd , formerly called Tsaritsyn and Stalingrad is an important industrial city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is long, north to south, situated on the western bank of the Volga River...

 (now Volgograd
Volgograd
Volgograd , formerly called Tsaritsyn and Stalingrad is an important industrial city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is long, north to south, situated on the western bank of the Volga River...

) in southwestern Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943. It is the largest battle on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 and was marked by its brutality and disregard for military and civilian casualties
Civilian casualties
Civilian casualties is a military term describing civilian or non-combatant persons killed, injured, or imprisoned by military action. The description of civilian casualties includes any form of military action regardless of whether civilians were targeted directly...

. It is among the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with the higher estimates of combined casualties amounting to nearly two million. In its defeat, the crippling losses suffered by Germany's military proved to be insurmountable for the war. The battle was a turning point in the war, after which the German forces attained no further strategic victories in the East.

The German offensive to capture Stalingrad commenced in late summer 1942, supported by intensive Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

bombing which reduced much of the city to rubble. The German offensive eventually became bogged down in house-to-house fighting; and despite controlling over 90% of the city at times, the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

was unable to dislodge the last Soviet defenders clinging tenaciously to the west bank of the Volga River
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

.

In November 1942, the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 launched Operation Uranus
Operation Uranus
Operation Uranus was the codename of the Soviet strategic operation in World War II which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army, the Third and Fourth Romanian armies, and portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army. The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, and was...

; a two-pronged attack, targeted at the inferior Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n and Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 forces which were protecting the German 6th Army flanks. The success of these attacks caused the weakly held flanks to collapse and the 6th Army to be cut off and surrounded
Encirclement
Encirclement is a military term for the situation when a force or target is isolated and surrounded by enemy forces. The German term for this is Kesselschlacht ; a comparable English term might be "in the bag"....

 inside Stalingrad. As the Russian winter set in, the 6th Army weakened rapidly from cold, starvation and ongoing Soviet attacks. Command ambiguity coupled with Adolf Hitler's resolute belief in the "power of the will" and the value of "standing fast" further compounded the German predicament. Eventually, the failure to break the encirclement by relieving German forces, coupled with the failure of re-supply by air, caused the final collapse. By early February 1943, German resistance in Stalingrad had ceased and the remaining elements of the surrounded 6th Army had either surrendered or had been destroyed.

Background


By the spring of 1942, despite the failure of Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 to decisively defeat the Soviet Union in a single campaign, the war had been progressing well for the Germans: the U-Boat offensive in the Atlantic had been very successful and Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

 had just captured Tobruk. In the east, they had stabilized their front in a line running from Leningrad
Leningrad
Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

 in the north to Rostov
Rostov-on-Don
-History:The mouth of the Don River has been of great commercial and cultural importance since the ancient times. It was the site of the Greek colony Tanais, of the Genoese fort Tana, and of the Turkish fortress Azak...

 in the south and while there were a number of salients
Salients, re-entrants and pockets
A salient is a battlefield feature that projects into enemy territory. The salient is surrounded by the enemy on three sides, making the troops occupying the salient vulnerable. The enemy's line facing a salient is referred to as a re-entrant...

 in the line where Soviet offensives had pushed the Germans back (notably to the northwest of Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 and south of Kharkov), these were not particularly threatening. Hitler was confident that he could master the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 after the winter of 1941, based on the fact that although Army Group Centre
Army Group Centre
Army Group Centre was the name of two distinct German strategic army groups that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II. The first Army Group Centre was created on 22 June 1941, as one of three German Army formations assigned to the invasion of the Soviet Union...

 (Heeresgruppe Mitte) had suffered heavy punishment west of Moscow the previous winter, 65% of its infantry had not been engaged and had been rested and re-equipped. Army Groups North and South had also not been particularly hard pressed over the winter. Stalin in turn, had just issued his "not a step back" orderOrder No. 227 of July 28, 1942. after the Red Army had suffered losses of 259% of their initial strength in 1941 and was expecting the main thrust of the German summer attacks to again be directed against Moscow.

The German summer offensive in the south of the Eastern Front was driven by two main objectives — time and material resources. Hitler was adamant to complete the offensive before the might of the United States joining the war came into play and secondly, he was determined to secure the oil resources in the Caucasus, which would deny them to the Soviet Union while securing an alternative petroleum resource for Germany.
The Soviets realized that they were under tremendous constraints of time and resources and ordered that anyone strong enough to hold a rifle be sent to defend the city. At this stage of the war, the Red Army was less capable of highly mobile operations than the German Army. However, combat in large urban areas tends to be dominated by small arms weaponry rather than armoured and mechanized units, much to the detriment of the German forces who were principally trained and experienced in fast-moving panzer led operations.

Case Blue


Army Group South was selected for a sprint forward through the southern Russian steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

s into the Caucasus to capture the vital Soviet oil field
Oil field
An oil field is a region with an abundance of oil wells extracting petroleum from below ground. Because the oil reservoirs typically extend over a large area, possibly several hundred kilometres across, full exploitation entails multiple wells scattered across the area...

s there. The planned summer offensive was code-named
Code name
A code name or cryptonym is a word or name used clandestinely to refer to another name or word. Code names are often used for military purposes, or in espionage...

 Fall Blau ("Case Blue"). It was to include the German 6th, 17th, 4th Panzer
German Fourth Panzer Army
The 4th Panzer Army was, before being designated a full army, the Panzer Group 4 , a German panzer army that saw action during World War II. Its units played a part in the invasion of France, and then on the Eastern Front.-Early history:The 4th Panzer Group's predecessor was the XVI Corps formed...

 and 1st Panzer
German First Panzer Army
The 1st Panzer Army was a German tank army that was a large armoured formation within the Wehrmacht Heer field forces during World War II.-Formation:...

 Armies. Army Group South had overrun the Ukrainian SSR in 1941. Poised in Eastern Ukraine, it was to spearhead the offensive.

Hitler intervened, however, ordering the Army Group
Army group
An army group is a military organization consisting of several field armies, which is self-sufficient for indefinite periods. It is usually responsible for a particular geographic area...

 to be split in two. Army Group South (A), under the command of Wilhelm List, was to continue advancing south towards the Caucasus as planned with the 17th Army and First Panzer Army. Army Group South (B), including Friedrich Paulus
Friedrich Paulus
Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus was an officer in the German military from 1910 to 1945. He attained the rank of Generalfeldmarschall during World War II, and is best known for having commanded the Sixth Army's assault on Stalingrad during Operation Blue in 1942...

’ 6th Army and Hermann Hoth
Hermann Hoth
Hermann "Papa" Hoth was an officer in the German military from 1903 to 1945. He attained the rank of Generaloberst during World War II. He fought in France, but is most noted for his later exploits as a panzer commander on the Eastern Front...

's 4th Panzer Army, was to move east towards the Volga and Stalingrad. Army Group B was commanded initially by Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Fedor von Bock
Fedor von Bock
Fedor von Bock was a German Generalfeldmarshall who served in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. As a leader who lectured his soldiers about the honor of dying for the German Fatherland, he was nicknamed "Der Sterber"...

 and later by General Maximilian von Weichs
Maximilian von Weichs
Maximilian Maria Joseph Karl Gabriel Lamoral Reichsfreiherr von Weichs zu Glon was a German Generalfeldmarschall during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

.

The start of Case Blau had been planned for late May 1942. However, a number of German and Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n units that were involved in Blau were then in the process of besieging Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. Delays in ending the siege pushed back the start date for Blau several times, and the city did not fall until the end of June. A smaller action was taken in the meantime, pinching off a Soviet salient
Salients, re-entrants and pockets
A salient is a battlefield feature that projects into enemy territory. The salient is surrounded by the enemy on three sides, making the troops occupying the salient vulnerable. The enemy's line facing a salient is referred to as a re-entrant...

 in the Second Battle of Kharkov
Second Battle of Kharkov
The Second Battle of Kharkov, so named by Wilhelm Keitel, was an Axis counter-offensive against the Red Army Izium bridgehead offensive conducted from 12 May to 28 May 1942, on the Eastern Front during World War II. Its objective was to eliminate the Izium bridgehead over Seversky Donets, or the...

, which resulted in the pocketing of a large Soviet force on 22 May.
Blau finally opened as Army Group South began its attack into southern Russia on 28 June 1942. The German offensive started well. Soviet forces offered little resistance in the vast empty steppes and started streaming eastward. Several attempts to re-establish a defensive line failed when German units outflanked
Flanking maneuver
In military tactics, a flanking maneuver, also called a flank attack, is an attack on the sides of an opposing force. If a flanking maneuver succeeds, the opposing force would be surrounded from two or more directions, which significantly reduces the maneuverability of the outflanked force and its...

 them. Two major pockets were formed and destroyed: the first, northeast of Kharkov, on 2 July, and a second, around Millerovo
Millerovo
Millerovo is a town and the administrative center of Millerovsky District of Rostov Oblast, Russia. Population: It was founded in 1786 and named after its founder, the army officer Ivan Abramovich Müller...

, Rostov Oblast
Rostov Oblast
Rostov Oblast is a federal subject of Russia , located in the Southern Federal District. Rostov Oblast has an area of and a population of making it the sixth most populous federal subject in Russia...

, a week later. Meanwhile, the Hungarian 2nd Army and the German 4th Panzer Army had launched an assault on Voronezh
Battle of Voronezh (1942)
The Battle of Voronezh was a battle on the Eastern Front of World War II, fought in and around the strategically important city of Voronezh on the Don river, south of Moscow, from 28 June-24 July 1942, as opening move of the German summer offensive in 1942....

, capturing the city on 5 July.

The initial advance of the 6th Army was so successful that Hitler intervened and ordered the 4th Panzer Army to join Army Group South (A) to the south. A massive traffic jam resulted when the 4th Panzer and the 6th both required the few roads in the area. Both armies were stopped dead while they attempted to clear the resulting mess of thousands of vehicles. The delay was long, and it is thought that it cost the advance at least one week. With the advance now slowed, Hitler changed his mind and re-assigned the 4th Panzer Army back to the attack on Stalingrad.
By the end of July, the Germans had pushed the Soviets across the Don River. At this point, the Don and Volga Rivers were only 40 mi (64.4 km) apart, and the Germans left their main supply depots west of the Don, which was to have important implications later in the course of the battle. The Germans began using the armies of their Italian
Italian war in Soviet Union, 1941-1943
The Italian participation in the Eastern Front during World War II began after the launch of Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941. Barbarossa was the German war against the Soviet Union...

, Hungarian, Croatian and Romanian allies to guard their left (northern) flank. The Italians are not often credited with bravery in the fighting, but they won several accolades in official German communiques. They were held in little regard by the Germans, and were often accused of cowardice and low morale: in reality, their ineffectiveness in combat was due to their very scarce equipment, obsolete weaponry, and primitive tactics of Italian officers, thus often being obliged to retreat or flee. They distinguished themselves in numerous battles, as in the battle of Nikolayevka
Battle of Nikolayevka
The Battle of Nikolayevka was fought in January 1943, as a small part of the larger Battle of Stalingrad. The Battle pitted forces of the Italian 8th Army's Alpini Corps against the four Soviet Armies of the Voronezh Front...

. The German 6th Army was only a few dozen kilometers from Stalingrad, and 4th Panzer Army, now to their south, turned northwards to help take the city. To the south, Army Group A was pushing far into the Caucasus, but their advance slowed as supply lines grew overextended. The two German army groups were not positioned to support one another due to the great distances involved.

After German intentions became clear in July 1942, Stalin appointed Marshal
Marshal of the Soviet Union
Marshal of the Soviet Union was the de facto highest military rank of the Soviet Union. ....

 Andrey Yeryomenko as commander of the Southeastern Front on 1 August 1942. Yeryomenko and Commissar
Commissar
Commissar is the English transliteration of an official title used in Russia from the time of Peter the Great.The title was used during the Provisional Government for regional heads of administration, but it is mostly associated with a number of Cheka and military functions in Bolshevik and Soviet...

 Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 were tasked with planning the defense of Stalingrad. The eastern border of Stalingrad was the wide River Volga, and over the river, additional Soviet units were deployed. These units became the newly formed 62nd Army, which Yeryomenko placed under the command of Lt. Gen.
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 Vasiliy Chuikov
Vasily Chuikov
Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was a Russian lieutenant general in the Red Army during World War II, twice Hero of the Soviet Union , who after the war became a Marshal of the Soviet Union.-Early life and career:Born into a peasant family in the village of Serebryanye Prudy, he joined the Red Army during...

 on 11 September 1942. The situation was extremely dire. When asked how he interpreted his task, he responded "We will defend the city or die in the attempt." The 62nd Army's mission was to defend Stalingrad at all costs. Chuikov's generalship during the battle earned him one of his two Hero of the Soviet Union
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

 awards.

Attack on Stalingrad


The Soviets had enough warning of the Germans' advance to ship virtually all the city's grain, cattle, and railroad rolling stock across the Volga and out of harm's way. This "harvest victory" left the city short of food even before the German attack began. Production continued in some factories, particularly the one producing T-34
T-34
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. Although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential design of World War II...

 tanks. Before the Wehrmacht reached the city itself, the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

had rendered the River Volga, vital for bringing supplies into the city, unusable to Soviet shipping. Between 25 and 31 July, 32 Soviet ships were sunk, with another nine crippled.

The battle began with the heavy bombing of the city by Generaloberst Wolfram von Richthofen
Wolfram von Richthofen
Dr.-Ing. Wolfram Freiherr von RichthofenIn German a Doctorate in engineering is abbreviated as Dr.-Ing. . was a German Generalfeldmarschall of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War...

's Luftflotte 4
Luftflotte 4
Luftflotte 4 was one of the primary divisions of the German Luftwaffe in World War II. It was formed on March 18, 1939 from Luftwaffenkommando Österreich in Vienna. The Luftflotte was redesignated on April 21, 1945 to Luftwaffenkommando 4, and became subordinated to Luftflotte 6. It was the...

, which in the summer and autumn of 1942 was the most powerful single air formation in the world. Some 1,000 tons of bombs were dropped. The city was quickly turned to rubble, although some factories continued production while workers joined in the fighting. The Croatian 369th Reinforced Infantry Regiment
369th Reinforced Infantry Regiment
The 369th Reinforced Infantry Regiment , also known as the Devil Division was a military unit of the Independent State of Croatia's Croatian Home Guard which fought alongside the German Armed Forces on the Eastern Front.-Formation:Croatian leader Ante Pavelić sent a letter to German Führer Adolf...

 was the only non-German unit selected by the Wehrmacht to enter Stalingrad city during assault operations. It fought as part of the 100th Jäger Division.
Stalin rushed all available troops to the east bank of the Volga, some from as far away as Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

. All the regular ferries were quickly destroyed by the Luftwaffe, which then targeted troop barges being towed slowly across the river by tugs. Many civilians were evacuated across the Volga. It has been said that Stalin prevented civilians from leaving the city in the belief that their presence would encourage greater resistance from the city's defenders. Civilians, including women and children, were put to work building trench
Trench
A trench is a type of excavation or depression in the ground. Trenches are generally defined by being deeper than they are wide , and by being narrow compared to their length ....

works and protective fortifications. A massive German strategic bombing
Strategic bombing
Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating an enemy nation-state by destroying its economic ability and public will to wage war rather than destroying its land or naval forces...

 on 23 August caused a firestorm
Firestorm
A firestorm is a conflagration which attains such intensity that it creates and sustains its own wind system. It is most commonly a natural phenomenon, created during some of the largest bushfires, forest fires, and wildfires...

, killing thousands and turning Stalingrad into a vast landscape of rubble and burnt ruins. Ninety percent of the living space in the Voroshilovskiy area was destroyed. Between 23 and 26 August, Soviet reports indicate 955 people were killed and another 1,181 wounded as a result of the bombing. Casualties of 40,000 were exaggerated, and after 25 August, the Soviets did not record civilian and military casualties as a result of air raids.Bergström quotes: Soviet Reports on the effects of air raids between 23–26 August 1942. This indicates 955 people were killed and another 1,181 wounded

The Soviet Air Force
Soviet Air Force
The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

, the Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily (VVS), was swept aside by the Luftwaffe. The VVS assembly in the immediate area lost 201 aircraft between 23 and 31 August, and despite meager reinforcements of some 100 aircraft in August, it was left with just 192 serviceable aircraft, 57 of which were fighters. The Soviets continued to pour aerial reinforcements into the Stalingrad area in late September, but continued to suffer appalling losses; the Luftwaffe had complete control of the skies. However, due to the relocation of Soviet industry in 1941, Soviet aircraft production reached 15,800 in the second half of 1942. The VVS was able to preserve significant strength and build up a strategic reserve that would eventually overpower the Luftwaffe.

The burden of the initial defense of the city fell on the 1077th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, a unit made up mainly of young female volunteers who had no training for engaging ground targets. Despite this, and with no support available from other units, the AA gunners stayed at their posts and took on the advancing panzers. The German 16th Panzer Division reportedly had to fight the 1077th’s gunners "shot for shot" until all 37 anti-aircraft batteries were destroyed or overrun. The German 16th Panzer Division was shocked to find that, due to Soviet manpower shortages, it had been fighting female soldiers. In the beginning, the Soviets relied extensively on "Workers' militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

s" composed of workers not directly involved in war production. For a short time, tanks continued to be produced and then manned by volunteer crews of factory workers. They were driven directly from the factory floor to the front line, often without paint or even gunsights.
By the end of August, Army Group South (B) had finally reached the Volga, north of Stalingrad. Another advance to the river south of the city followed. By 1 September, the Soviets could only reinforce and supply their forces in Stalingrad by perilous crossings of the Volga under constant bombardment by artillery and aircraft.

On 5 September, the Soviet 24th and 66th Armies organized a massive attack against XIV Panzerkorps. The Luftwaffe helped repulse the offensive by heavily attacking Soviet artillery positions and defensive lines. The Soviets were forced to withdraw at midday after only a few hours. Of the 120 tanks the Soviets had committed, 30 were lost to air attack.

Soviet operations were constantly hampered by the Luftwaffe. On 18 September, the Soviet 1st Guards and 24th Army launched an offensive against VIII. Armeekorps at Kotluban. VIII. Fliegerkorps
8th Air Corps (Germany)
VIII. FliegerkorpsFor more details see Luftwaffe Organization was formed 19 July 1939 in Oppeln as Fliegerführer z.b.V. The abbreviation z.b.V. is German and stands for zur besonderen Verwendung . Fliegerführer z.b.V was renamed to VIII. Fliegerkorps on 10 November 1939...

dispatched wave after wave of Stuka dive-bombers to prevent a breakthrough. The offensive was repulsed. The Stukas claimed 41 of the 106 Soviet tanks knocked out that morning, while escorting Bf 109s destroyed 77 Soviet aircraft.
Amid the debris of the wrecked city, the Soviet 62nd and 64th Armies
Army (Soviet Army)
An army, besides the generalized meanings of ‘a country's armed forces’ or its ‘land forces’, is a type of formation in militaries of various countries, including the Soviet Union. This article serves a central point of reference for Soviet armies without individual articles, and explains some of...

, which included the Soviet 13th Guards Rifle Division
13th Guards Rifle Division
The 13th Guards Rifle Division was a Soviet Union Red Army infantry division that served with distinction during the Second World War.-Formation:The unit's origin lies with the 87th Rifle Division, a pre-war division, which was established in 1929...

, anchored their defense lines with strongpoints in houses and factories.

Fighting within the ruined city was fierce and desperate. Lieutenant General Alexander Rodimtsev
Alexander Rodimtsev
Aleksandr Ilich Rodimtsev was a Colonel-General in the Soviet Red Army during World War II and twice won the Hero of the Soviet Union award .Rodimtsev joined the Red Army in the 1920s...

 was in charge of the 13th Guards Rifle Division, and received one of two Heroes of the Soviet Union
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

 awarded during the battle for his actions. Stalin's Order No. 227 of 27 July 1942 decreed that all commanders who ordered unauthorized retreat would be subject to a military tribunal. “Not a step back!” and "There is no land behind the Volga!" were the slogans. The Germans pushing forward into Stalingrad suffered heavy casualties.

Hugging tactics


German military doctrine
Military doctrine
Military doctrine is the concise expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements.It is a guide to action, not hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military...

 was based on the principle of combined-arms teams
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 and close cooperation between tanks, infantry, engineers
Military engineer
In military science, engineering refers to the practice of designing, building, maintaining and dismantling military works, including offensive, defensive and logistical structures, to shape the physical operating environment in war...

, artillery and ground-attack aircraft
Ground attack aircraft
Ground-attack aircraft are military aircraft with primary role of attacking targets on the ground with greater precision than bombers and prepared to face stronger low-level air defense...

. To counter this, Soviet commanders adopted the tactic of always keeping the front lines as close to the Germans as physically possible; Chuikov called this "hugging" the Germans. This forced the German infantry to either fight on their own or risk taking casualties from their own supporting fire; it neutralized German close air support and weakened artillery support.

The Soviets understood that, in Stalingrad, the best defense would depend on anchoring their defense lines in numerous buildings overseeing strategically important streets and squares. Such a strategy would hold for as long as possible all the ground the Soviets could take in the city. Thus, they converted multi-floored apartment blocks, factories, warehouses, street corner residences and office buildings into strongholds bristling with machine guns, anti-tank rifles, mortars, mines, barbed wire, snipers and small 5-10 man units of submachine gunners and grenadiers prepared for house-to-house combat.

Bitter fighting raged for every ruin, street, factory, house, basement and staircase. The sewers were the sites of labyrinthine firefights. The Germans, calling this unseen urban warfare
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

 Rattenkrieg ("Rat War"), bitterly joked about capturing the kitchen but still fighting for the living room and the bedroom. In such desperate chaos, all battle lines vanished, and the major, armor-supported mobility to which the German soldiers were accustomed degenerated into vicious, fast-paced skirmishes ranging through bombed-out debris of residential neighborhoods, office blocks, basements and apartment high-rises. Some of the taller buildings, blasted into roofless shells by earlier German aerial bombardment, saw floor-by-floor, close-quarters combat, with the Germans and Soviets on alternate levels, firing at each other through holes in the floors.
Fighting on Mamayev Kurgan
Mamayev Kurgan
Mamayev Kurgan is a dominant height overlooking the city of Volgograd in Southern Russia. The name in Russian means "tumulus of Mamai"....

, a prominent hill above the city, was particularly merciless, and the position changed hands many times. By 12 September, the Soviet 62nd Army had been reduced to 90 tanks, 700 mortars and just 20,000 men.

The 13th Guards Rifle Division, assigned to retake Mamayev Kurgan and Railway Station No. 1 on 13 September suffered particularly heavy losses. Over 30 percent of its soldiers were killed in the first 24 hours, and just 320 out of the original 10,000 survived the entire battle. Both objectives were retaken, but only temporarily. The railway station changed hands 14 times in six hours. By the following evening, the 13th Guards Rifle Division had ceased to exist, but its men had killed approximately an equal number of Germans. Combat raged there for weeks near the giant grain silo. When German soldiers finally took the position, only forty dead Soviet fighters were found, though the Germans had thought there were many more due to the ferocious resistance. The Soviets burned heaps of grain during their retreat.


In another part of the city, a Soviet platoon
Platoon
A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 16 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer—the...

 under the command of Yakov Pavlov
Yakov Pavlov
Yakov Fedotovich Pavlov was a Soviet Red Army soldier awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union for his role in defending "Pavlov's House" during the Battle of Stalingrad.-Biography:...

 turned an apartment building that oversaw a square in the city center into an impenetrable fortress, later called "Pavlov's House
Pavlov's House
Pavlov's House became the name of a fortified apartment building during the Battle of Stalingrad from 27 September, 1942 to February 2, 1943...

". The soldiers surrounded it with minefields, set up machine-gun positions at the windows and breached the walls in the basement for better communications. The soldiers found about ten Soviet civilians hiding in the basement. They were not relieved, and not significantly reinforced, for two months. Well after the battle, Chuikov liked to joke that more Germans died trying to capture Pavlov's House than died capturing Paris. According to Beevor, throughout the second month, after each wave of German assault against the building, the Soviets had to run out and kick down the piles of German corpses in order for the machine and anti-tank gunners in the building to have clear firing lines across the square. The building was labeled Festung ("Fortress") on German maps. Sgt. Pavlov was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

 for his actions.


With no end in sight, the Germans started transferring heavy artillery to the city, including the gigantic 800 mm (31.5 in) railroad gun nicknamed "Dora", but made no attempt to send a force across the Volga, allowing the Soviets to build up a large number of artillery batteries on the east side. This artillery continued to bombard the German positions. German tanks became useless amid heaps of rubble up to eight meters high.

Snipers on both sides used the ruins to inflict heavy casualties. The most famous Soviet sniper
Soviet sniper
Snipers of the Soviet Union played an important role mainly on the Eastern Front of World War II, apart from other preceding and subsequent conflicts. In World War II, Soviet snipers used the 7.62x54R rifle cartridge with light, heavy, armour-piercing , armour-piercing-and-incendiary ,...

 in Stalingrad was Vasily Zaytsev with 225 confirmed kills during the battle. Zaytsev was one of a whole corps of snipers and had over thirty students, who were credited with killing over three thousand German soldiers during the war.

For both Stalin and Hitler, Stalingrad became a matter of prestige beyond its strategic significance. The Soviet command moved the Red Army's strategic reserves from the Moscow area to the lower Volga, and transferred aircraft from the entire country to the Stalingrad region.

The strain on both military commanders was immense: Paulus developed an uncontrollable tic in his eye, which eventually afflicted the left side of his face, while Chuikov experienced an outbreak of eczema
Eczema
Eczema is a form of dermatitis, or inflammation of the epidermis . In England, an estimated 5.7 million or about one in every nine people have been diagnosed with the disease by a clinician at some point in their lives.The term eczema is broadly applied to a range of persistent skin conditions...

 that required him to have his hands completely bandaged. Troops on both sides faced the constant strain of close-range combat.

Air attacks


Determined to crush Soviet resistance, Luftflotte 4's Stukawaffe flew 900 individual sorties against Soviet positions at the Dzerzhinskiy Tractor Factory on 5 October. Several Soviet regiments were wiped out; the entire staff of the Soviet 339th Infantry Regiment were killed the following morning during an air raid.

In mid-October, the Luftwaffe intensified its efforts against remaining Red Army positions holding the west bank. Luftflotte 4 flew 2,000 sorties on 14 October and 600 ST (544.3 t) of bombs were dropped while German infantry surrounded the three factories. Stukageschwader 1, 2, and 77 had largely silenced Soviet artillery on the eastern bank of the Volga before turning their attention to the shipping that was once again trying to reinforce the narrowing Soviet pockets of resistance. The 62nd Army had been cut in two, and, due to intensive air attack on its supply ferries, was now being paralyzed.

With the Soviets forced into a 1000 yd (914.4 m) strip of land on the western bank of the Volga, over 1,208 Stuka missions were flown in an effort to eliminate them. Despite the heavy air bombardment (Stalingrad suffered heavier bombardment than Sedan
Sedan, France
Sedan is a commune in France, a sub-prefecture of the Ardennes department in northern France.-Geography:The historic centre is built on a peninsula formed by an arc of the Meuse River. It is around from the Belgian border.-History:...

 or Sevastopol
Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

), the Soviet 62nd Army, with 47,000 men and 19 tanks, prevented the 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army from taking the Volga's west bank.

The Luftwaffe retained air superiority into early November and Soviet daytime aerial resistance was nonexistent, but after flying 20,000 individual sorties, its original strength of 1,600 serviceable aircraft had fallen to 950. The Kampfwaffe (bomber force) had been hardest hit, having only 232 out of a force of 480 left. Despite enjoying qualitative superiority against the VVS and possessing 80% of the Luftwaffes resources on the Eastern Front, Luftflotte 4 could not prevent Soviet aerial power from growing. By the time of the counter-offensive, the Soviets outnumbered it.

The Soviet bomber force, the Aviatsiya Dal'nego Deystviya (Long Range Aviation
Long Range Aviation
Long Range Aviation was the branch of the Soviet Air Forces tasked with long-range bombardment of strategic targets with nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, it was the counterpart to the Strategic Air Command of the United States Air Force....

; ADD), having taken crippling losses over the past 18 months, was restricted to flying at night. The Soviets flew 11,317 night sorties over Stalingrad and the Don-bend sector between 17 July and 19 November. These raids caused little damage and were of nuisance value only.

The situation for the Luftwaffe was now becoming increasingly difficult. On 8 November, substantial units from Luftflotte 4 were withdrawn to combat the Allied landings in North Africa
Operation Torch
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942....

. The German air arm found itself spread thinly across Europe, and struggling to maintain its strength in the other southern sectors of the Soviet-German front.8,314 German aircraft were produced from July–December 1942, but this could not keep pace with a three-front aerial war of attrition Meanwhile, the Soviet Army was being supplied by the American government under the Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 program. During the last quarter of 1942, the U.S. sent the Soviet Union 60,000 trucks, 11,000 jeeps, 2 million pairs of boots, 50000 ST (45,359.2 t) of explosives, 450000 ST (408,233.1 t) of steel and 250000 ST (226,796.2 t) of aviation gas. The majority of the American boots, which Stalin requested first, reached the troops. However, a part of the military equipment and food supplied by the USA was destroyed by German attacks, as that of Convoy PQ-17
Convoy PQ-17
PQ 17 was the code name for an Allied World War II convoy in the Arctic Ocean. In July 1942, the Arctic convoys suffered a significant defeat when Convoy PQ 17 lost 24 of its 35 merchant ships during a series of heavy enemy daylight attacks which lasted a week. On 27 June, the ships sailed...

.

Germany reaches the Volga


After three months of slow advance, the Germans finally reached the river banks, capturing 90% of the ruined city and splitting the remaining Soviet forces into two narrow pockets. Ice floes on the Volga now prevented boats and tugs from supplying the Soviet defenders. Nevertheless, the fighting, especially on the slopes of Mamayev Kurgan and inside the factory area in the northern part of the city, continued as fiercely as ever. The battles for the Red October Steel Factory, the Dzerzhinsky tractor factory and the Barrikady gun factory became world-famous.

Soviet counter-offensives



Recognizing that German troops were ill prepared for offensive operations during the winter and that most of them were redeployed elsewhere on the southern sector of the Eastern Front, the Stavka
Stavka
Stavka was the term used to refer to a command element of the armed forces from the time of the Kievan Rus′, more formally during the history of Imperial Russia as administrative staff and General Headquarters during late 19th Century Imperial Russian armed forces and those of the Soviet Union...

 decided to conduct a number of offensive operations which took place between 19 November 1942 and 2 February 1943.

These operations opened the Winter Campaign of 1942-1943 (19 November 1942–3 March 1943), which involved some 15 Armies operating on several fronts.

German exhaustion prior to Operation Uranus


The German offensive to take Stalingrad had been halted by a combination of stubborn Red Army resistance inside the city and local weather conditions. The Soviet counter-offensive planning used deceptive measures that eventually trapped and destroyed the 6th Army and other Axis forces around the city, becoming the second large scale defeat of the German Army during World War II.

During the siege, the German and allied Italian
Italian war in Soviet Union, 1941-1943
The Italian participation in the Eastern Front during World War II began after the launch of Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941. Barbarossa was the German war against the Soviet Union...

, Hungarian, and Romanian
Romanian Armies in the Battle of Stalingrad
Two Romanian armies, the Third and the Fourth, were involved in the Battle of Stalingrad, helping to protect the northern and southern flanks respectively of the German 6th Army as it tried to conquer the city of Stalingrad, defended by the Soviet Red Army in mid to late 1942...

 armies protecting Army Group B's flank
Flanking maneuver
In military tactics, a flanking maneuver, also called a flank attack, is an attack on the sides of an opposing force. If a flanking maneuver succeeds, the opposing force would be surrounded from two or more directions, which significantly reduces the maneuverability of the outflanked force and its...

s had pressed their headquarters
Headquarters
Headquarters denotes the location where most, if not all, of the important functions of an organization are coordinated. In the United States, the corporate headquarters represents the entity at the center or the top of a corporation taking full responsibility managing all business activities...

 for support. The Hungarian 2nd Army, consisting of mainly ill-equipped and ill-trained units, was given the task of defending a 200 km (124.3 mi) section of the front north of Stalingrad between the Italian Army and Voronezh
Voronezh
Voronezh is a city in southwestern Russia, the administrative center of Voronezh Oblast. It is located on both sides of the Voronezh River, away from where it flows into the Don. It is an operating center of the Southeastern Railway , as well as the center of the Don Highway...

. This resulted in a very thin line, with some sectors where 1 – stretches were being defended by a single platoon
Platoon
A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 16 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer—the...

. Soviet forces held several bridgeheads on the western bank of the river and presented a potentially serious threat to Army Group B.

Similarly, on the southern flank of the Stalingrad sector the front southwest of Kotelnikovo
Kotelnikovo
Kotelnikovo is a town and the administrative center of Kotelnikovsky District of Volgograd Oblast, Russia, located on the Kurmoyarsky Aksay River , southwest of Volgograd...

 was held only by the Romanian 7th Army Corps, and beyond it, a single German division, the 16th Motorized Infantry.

However, Hitler was so focused on the city itself that requests from the flanks for support were refused. The Chief of the Army General Staff, Franz Halder
Franz Halder
Franz Halder was a German General and the head of the Army General Staff from 1938 until September, 1942, when he was dismissed after frequent disagreements with Adolf Hitler.-Early life:...

, expressed concerns about Hitler's preoccupation with the city, pointing out that if the situation on the weak German flanks was not rectified, "there would be a disaster". Hitler told Halder that Stalingrad would be captured and the weakened flanks would be held with "national socialist ardour, clearly I cannot expect this of you (Halder)", and replaced him with General Kurt Zeitzler
Kurt Zeitzler
Kurt Zeitzler was an officer in the German Reichswehr and its successor the Wehrmacht, most prominent for being the Chief of the Army General Staff from 1942 to 1944.- World War I and after :...

 in mid-October.

Operation Uranus: the Soviet offensive



In autumn, the Soviet generals Georgy Zhukov
Georgy Zhukov
Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov , was a Russian career officer in the Red Army who, in the course of World War II, played a pivotal role in leading the Red Army through much of Eastern Europe to liberate the Soviet Union and other nations from the Axis Powers' occupation...

 and Aleksandr Vasilevsky
Aleksandr Vasilevsky
Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Vasilevsky was a Russian career officer in the Red Army, promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1943. He was the Chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces and Deputy Minister of Defense during World War II, as well as Minister of Defense from 1949 to 1953...

, responsible for strategic planning in the Stalingrad area, concentrated massive forces in the steppes to the north and south of the city. The German northern flank was particularly vulnerable, since it was defended by Italian
Italian war in Soviet Union, 1941-1943
The Italian participation in the Eastern Front during World War II began after the launch of Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941. Barbarossa was the German war against the Soviet Union...

, Hungarian, and Romanian
Romanian Armies in the Battle of Stalingrad
Two Romanian armies, the Third and the Fourth, were involved in the Battle of Stalingrad, helping to protect the northern and southern flanks respectively of the German 6th Army as it tried to conquer the city of Stalingrad, defended by the Soviet Red Army in mid to late 1942...

 units that suffered from inferior equipment, morale, and leadership when compared with their German counterparts. This weakness was known and exploited by the Soviets, who preferred to face off against non-German troops whenever possible, just as the British preferred attacking Italian troops instead of German ones in North Africa. The plan was to keep pinning the Germans down in the city, then punch through the overstretched and weakly defended German flanks and surround the Germans inside Stalingrad. The flanks were to be attacked far enough away from Stalingrad so that the bulk of the 6th Army in Stalingrad could not redeploy to defend against the attack. During the preparations for the attack, Marshal
Marshal of the Soviet Union
Marshal of the Soviet Union was the de facto highest military rank of the Soviet Union. ....

 Zhukov personally visited the front and noticing the poor organization, insisted on a one week delay in the start date of the planned attack. The operation was code-named "Uranus" and launched in conjunction with Operation Mars
Operation Mars
Operation Mars was the codename for the Rzhev offensive operation part of the Rzhev-Vyazma strategic offensive operation launched by Soviet forces against German forces during World War II. It took place between 25 November and 20 December 1942 in a salient in the vicinity of Moscow...

, which was directed at Army Group Center. The plan was similar to the one Zhukov had used to achieve victory at Khalkhin Gol
Battle of Khalkhin Gol
The Battles of Khalkhyn Gol was the decisive engagement of the undeclared Soviet–Japanese Border Wars fought among the Soviet Union, Mongolia and the Empire of Japan in 1939. The conflict was named after the river Khalkhyn Gol, which passes through the battlefield...

 three years before, where he had sprung a double envelopment
Pincer movement
The pincer movement or double envelopment is a military maneuver. The flanks of the opponent are attacked simultaneously in a pinching motion after the opponent has advanced towards the center of an army which is responding by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks, in order to surround it...

 and destroyed the 23rd Division
IJA 23d Division
The was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call-sign was the .-History:The 23rd Division was formed in Kumamoto on 4 April 1938 as the first reserve division for the Second Sino-Japanese War....

 of the Japanese army.

On 19 November 1942, the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 unleashed Operation Uranus. The attacking Soviet units under the command of Gen. Nikolay Vatutin consisted of three complete armies, the 1st Guards Army
Soviet First Guards Army
The 1st Guards Army was a Soviet field army that fought on the Eastern Front during World War II, being formed from the 2nd Reserve Army with five Guards Rifle Divisions in August 1942....

, 5th Tank Army, and 21st Army, including a total of 18 infantry divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

, eight tank brigade
Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s, two motorized brigades, six cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 divisions and one anti-tank brigade. The preparations for the attack could be heard by the Romanians, who continued to push for reinforcements, only to be refused again. Thinly spread, outnumbered and poorly equipped, the Romanian 3rd Army
Romanian Third Army
The 3rd Army was a field army of the Romanian Land Forces active from the 19th century to the 1990s. It that fought as part of the German Army Group B during World War II, in Ukraine, Crimea, and the Caucasus...

, which held the northern flank of the German 6th Army, was shattered. On 20 November, a second Soviet offensive (two armies) was launched to the south of Stalingrad, against points held by the Romanian 4th Army Corps. The Romanian forces, made up primarily of infantry, collapsed almost immediately. Soviet forces raced west in a pincer movement
Pincer movement
The pincer movement or double envelopment is a military maneuver. The flanks of the opponent are attacked simultaneously in a pinching motion after the opponent has advanced towards the center of an army which is responding by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks, in order to surround it...

, and met two days later near the town of Kalach
Kalach-na-Donu
Kalach-na-Donu , or Kalach-on-the-Don, is a town and the administrative center of Kalachyovsky District of Volgograd Oblast, Russia, located on the Don River west of Volgograd. Population: It was founded in 1708 as a Cossack sloboda...

, sealing the ring around Stalingrad. This was not filmed at the time; the Soviets re-enacted the link-up for a propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 film, which achieved worldwide fame.

Destruction of Sixth Army




About 290,000 German and Romanian soldiers, the Croatian 369th Reinforced Infantry Regiment and other volunteer subsidiary troops were surrounded. Inside the pocket , there were also around 10,000 Soviet civilians and several thousand Soviet soldiers the Germans had taken captive during the battle. Not all of the 6th Army was trapped; 50,000 soldiers were brushed aside outside the pocket. The Red Army units immediately formed two defensive fronts: a circumvallation facing inward and a contravallation facing outward.

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 had declared in a public speech (in the Berlin Sportpalast
Berlin Sportpalast
The Berliner Sportpalast was a multi-purpose winter sport venue and meeting hall in the Schöneberg section of Berlin. Depending on the type of event and seating configuration, the Sportpalast could hold up to 14,000 people and was for a time the biggest meeting hall in the German capital...

) on 30 September 1942 that the German army would never leave the city. At a meeting shortly after the Soviet encirclement
Encirclement
Encirclement is a military term for the situation when a force or target is isolated and surrounded by enemy forces. The German term for this is Kesselschlacht ; a comparable English term might be "in the bag"....

, German army chiefs pushed for an immediate breakout to a new line on the west of the Don, but Hitler was at his Bavarian retreat of Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden is a municipality in the German Bavarian Alps. It is located in the south district of Berchtesgadener Land in Bavaria, near the border with Austria, some 30 km south of Salzburg and 180 km southeast of Munich...

with the head of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

. When asked by Hitler, Göring replied, after being convinced by Hans Jeschonnek
Hans Jeschonnek
Hans Jeschonnek was a German Generaloberst and a Chief of the General Staff of Nazi Germany′s Luftwaffe during World War II. He committed suicide in August 1943.-Biography:...

, that the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 could supply the 6th Army with an "air bridge
Airbridge (logistics)
An airbridge is the route and means of delivering material from one place to another by an airlift.An airbridge is the means by which an airhead is kept supplied by overflying enemy held territory...

". This would allow the Germans in the city to fight on while a relief force was assembled. A similar plan had been used a year earlier at the Demyansk Pocket
Demyansk Pocket
The Demyansk Pocket was the name given for the encirclement of German troops by the Red Army around Demyansk , south of Leningrad, during World War II on the Eastern Front. The pocket existed mainly from 8 February-21 April 1942. A much smaller pocket was simultaneously surrounded in Kholm, about ...

, albeit on a much smaller scale: a corps at Demyansk rather than an entire army. Also, Soviet fighter forces had improved considerably in both quality and quantity in the intervening year. But the mention of the successful Demyansk air supply operation reinforced Hitler's own views, and was endorsed by Göring several days later.
The head of Luftflotte 4, Wolfram von Richthofen
Wolfram von Richthofen
Dr.-Ing. Wolfram Freiherr von RichthofenIn German a Doctorate in engineering is abbreviated as Dr.-Ing. . was a German Generalfeldmarschall of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War...

, tried to get this decision overturned. The 6th Army was the largest unit of this type in the world and almost twice as large as a regular German army unit, plus there was also a corps of the 4th Panzer Army trapped in the pocket. It should have been clear that supplying them by air was impossible; the maximum 117.5 ST (106.6 t) they could deliver a day—based on the number of available aircraft and with only the airfield at Pitomnik to land at—was far less than the minimum 800 ST (725.7 t) needed.Shirer p. 926 says that "Paulus radioed that they would need a minimum of 750 tons of supplies day flown in," while Craig pp. 206–207 quotes Zeitzler as pressing Goering about his boast that the Luftwaffe could airlift the needed supplies: "Are you aware ... how many daily sorties the army in Stalingrad will need? ... Seven hundred tons! Every day!" To supplement the limited number of Junkers Ju 52
Junkers Ju 52
The Junkers Ju 52 was a German transport aircraft manufactured from 1932 to 1945. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 air carriers including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler...

 transports, the Germans used aircraft wholly inadequate for the role, such as the Heinkel He 177
Heinkel He 177
The Heinkel He 177 Greif was the only operational long-range bomber to be operated by the Luftwaffe. Starting its existence as Germany's first purpose-built heavy bomber just before the war, and built in large numbers during World War II, it was also mistakenly tasked, right from its beginnings,...

 bomber (some bombers performed adequately—the Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

 proved to be quite capable and was much faster than the Ju 52). General Richthofen informed Manstein on 27 November of the small transport capacity of the Luftwaffe and the impossibility of supplying 300 tons a day by air. Manstein now saw the enormous technical difficulties of a supply by air of these dimensions. The next day he made a six page situation report to the general staff. Based on the information of the expert Richthofen, he declared that contrary to the example of the pocket of Demjansk the permanent supply by air would be impossible. If only a narrow link could be established to sixth Army, he proposed that this should be used to pull it out from the encirclement. He acknowledged the heavy moral sacrifice the giving up of Stalingrad means but this is made easier to bear by the conservation of the combat power of Sixth Army and the regaining of the initiative...".
But Hitler backed Göring's plan and reiterated his order of "no surrender" to his trapped armies.

The air supply mission failed. Appalling weather conditions, technical failures, heavy Soviet anti-aircraft fire and fighter interceptions led to the loss of 488 German aircraft. The Luftwaffe failed to achieve even the daily supply of 117 ST (106.1 t) that it had aircraft for. An average of 94 ST (85.3 t) of supplies per day was delivered. The most successful day, 19 December, delivered only 289 ST (262.2 t) of supplies in 154 flights. The supplies that did get through were often useless: one aircraft arrived with 20 t (22 ST) of vodka
Vodka
Vodka , is a distilled beverage. It is composed primarily of water and ethanol with traces of impurities and flavorings. Vodka is made by the distillation of fermented substances such as grains, potatoes, or sometimes fruits....

 and summer uniforms, another with supplies of black pepper and marjoram
Marjoram
Marjoram is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavours...

. Hitler's indecision on the purpose of Operation Winter Storm (either to allow a breakout or to open a corridor) meant that large quantities of fuel that would have helped with a breakout were shipped when food and ammunition would have been more useful. The transport aircraft that did land safely were used to evacuate technical specialists and sick or wounded men from the besieged enclave (some 42,000 in all).

Initially, supply flights came in from the field at Tatsinskaya, called 'Tazi' by the German pilots. On 23 December, the Soviet 24th Tank Corps, commanded by Major-General Vasily Mikhaylovich Badanov
Vasily Badanov
Vasily Mikhaylovich Badanov 14 December 1895, Verkhnyaya Yakushka1 April 1971, Moscow) was a Soviet military officer and general, best known for his leadership in the Tatsinskaya Raid and subsequent command of the 4th Tank Army .-Biography:...

, reached nearby Skassirskaya and in the early morning of 24 December, the tanks reached Tatsinskaya
Tatsinskaya Raid
The Tatsinskaya Raid was a Soviet armoured raid deep into the German rear conducted by 24th Tank Corps under the command of Major General Vasily Mikhaylovich Badanov in late December 1942, during the last phases of the Battle of Stalingrad . It was designed to force the Germans to divert forces...

. Without any soldiers to defend the airfield, it was abandoned under heavy fire; in a little under an hour, 108 Ju 52s and 16 Ju 86
Junkers Ju 86
The Junkers Ju 86 was a German monoplane bomber and civilian airliner designed in the early 1930s, and employed by both sides during World War II. The civilian model Ju 86B could carry 10 passengers. Two were delivered to Swissair and five to Luft Hansa...

s took off for Novocherkassk
Novocherkassk
Novocherkassk is a city in Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the right bank of the Tuzlov River and on the Aksay River. Population: 169,039 ; 170,822 ; 178,000 ; 123,000 ; 81,000 ; 52,000 ....

—leaving 72 Ju 52s and many other aircraft burning on the ground. A new base was established some 200 mi (321.9 km) from Stalingrad at Salsk
Salsk
Salsk is a town and the administrative center of Salsky District of Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the Sredny Yegorlyk River , southeast of Rostov-on-Don. Population:...

, the additional distance another obstacle to the resupply efforts. Salsk was abandoned in turn by mid-January for a rough facility at Zverevo, near Shakhty. The field at Zverevo was attacked repeatedly on 18 January and a further 50 Ju 52s were destroyed.

The 6th Army slowly starved. Pilots were shocked to find the troops too exhausted and hungry to unload. Germans fought over the slightest scraps of bread. General Zeitzler
Kurt Zeitzler
Kurt Zeitzler was an officer in the German Reichswehr and its successor the Wehrmacht, most prominent for being the Chief of the Army General Staff from 1942 to 1944.- World War I and after :...

, moved by their plight, began to limit himself to their slim rations at meal times. After a few weeks on such a diet, he had lost 26 lb (11.8 kg) and had become so emaciated that Hitler, annoyed, personally ordered him to start eating regular meals again.

The toll on the Transportgruppen was heavy. Some 266 Junkers Ju 52s were destroyed, one-third of the fleet's strength on the Eastern Front. The He 111 gruppen lost 165 aircraft in transport operations. Other losses included 42 Ju 86s, nine Fw 200
Focke-Wulf Fw 200
The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, also known as Kurier to the Allies was a German all-metal four-engine monoplane originally developed by Focke-Wulf as a long-range airliner...

 Condors, five He 177 bombers and a Ju 290
Junkers Ju 290
The Junkers Ju 290 was a long-range transport, maritime patrol aircraft and heavy bomber used by the Luftwaffe late in World War II.-Design and development:...

. The Luftwaffe also lost close to 1,000 highly experienced bomber crew personnel. So heavy were the Luftwaffes losses that four of Luftflotte 4's transport units (KGrzbV 700, KGrzbV 900, I./KGrzbV 1 and II./KGzbV 1) were "formally dissolved".

Operation Little Saturn


Soviet forces consolidated their positions around Stalingrad, and fierce fighting to shrink the pocket began. Operation Winter Storm (Operation Wintergewitter), a German attempt lead by Manstein to relieve the trapped army from the south, was successfully fended off by the Soviets in December. The full impact of the harsh Russian winter set in. The Volga froze solid, allowing the Soviets to supply their forces more easily. The trapped Germans rapidly ran out of heating fuel and medical supplies, and thousands started to die of frostbite
Frostbite
Frostbite is the medical condition where localized damage is caused to skin and other tissues due to extreme cold. Frostbite is most likely to happen in body parts farthest from the heart and those with large exposed areas...

, malnutrition, and disease.
On 16 December, the Soviets launched a second offensive, Operation Little Saturn, which attempted to punch through the Axis army on the Don and take Rostov
Rostov-on-Don
-History:The mouth of the Don River has been of great commercial and cultural importance since the ancient times. It was the site of the Greek colony Tanais, of the Genoese fort Tana, and of the Turkish fortress Azak...

. If successful, this offensive would have trapped the remainder of Army Group South, ⅓ of the entire German army in Russia, in the Caucasus. The Germans set up a "mobile defense" in which small units were to hold towns until supporting armor could arrive. From the Soviet bridgehead at Mamon, 15 divisions—supported by at least 100 tanks—attacked the Italian Cosseria and Ravenna Divisions, and although outnumbered 9 to 1, the Italians resisted until 19 December, when ARMIR headquarters finally ordered the battered divisions to withdraw. The Soviets never got close to Rostov, but the fighting forced von Manstein to extract Army Group A from the Caucasus and re-establish the frontline some 250 km (155.3 mi) away from the city. The Tatsinskaya Raid
Tatsinskaya Raid
The Tatsinskaya Raid was a Soviet armoured raid deep into the German rear conducted by 24th Tank Corps under the command of Major General Vasily Mikhaylovich Badanov in late December 1942, during the last phases of the Battle of Stalingrad . It was designed to force the Germans to divert forces...

 also caused significant losses to the Luftwaffes transport fleet.

The 6th Army now was beyond all hope of German reinforcement. The German troops in Stalingrad were not told this, however, and continued to believe that reinforcements were on their way. Some German officers requested that Paulus defy Hitler’s orders to stand fast and instead attempt to break out of the Stalingrad pocket. Paulus refused, as he abhorred the thought of disobeying orders. Also, while a motorised breakout might have been possible in the first few weeks, the 6th Army now had insufficient fuel and the German soldiers would have faced great difficulty breaking through the Soviet lines on foot in harsh winter conditions.

Soviet victory


The Germans inside the pocket retreated from the suburb
Suburb
The word suburb mostly refers to a residential area, either existing as part of a city or as a separate residential community within commuting distance of a city . Some suburbs have a degree of administrative autonomy, and most have lower population density than inner city neighborhoods...

s of Stalingrad to the city itself. The loss of the two airfields, at Pitomnik
Pitomnik Airfield
The Pitomnik airfield was an airfield in Russia, the primary of the seven airfields used by the German Wehrmacht during the Battle of Stalingrad within the city....

 on 16 January 1943 and Gumrak on either 25 January or the night of 21/22 January, meant an end to air supplies and to the evacuation of the wounded. The third and last serviceable runway was at the Stalingradskaja flight school, which reportedly had the last landings and takeoffs on the night of 22–23 January. After daybreak on 23 January, there were no more reported landings except for intermittent air drops of ammunition and food until the end.
The Germans were now not only starving, but running out of ammunition. Nevertheless, they continued to resist, in part because they believed the Soviets would execute any who surrendered. In particular, the so-called "HiWis
Hiwi (volunteer)
Hiwi is a German abbreviation. It has two meanings, "voluntary assistant" and "assistant scientist" .- :...

", Soviet citizens fighting for the Germans, had no illusions about their fate if captured. The Soviets were initially surprised by the number of Germans they had trapped, and had to reinforce their encircling troops. Bloody urban warfare
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

 began again in Stalingrad, but this time it was the Germans who were pushed back to the banks of the Volga. They fortified their positions in the factory districts and the Soviets encountered almost the same tooth-and-nail ferocity that they themselves had displayed a month earlier. The Germans adopted a simple defense of fixing wire nets over all windows to protect themselves from grenades. The Soviets responded by fixing fish hooks to the grenades so they stuck to the nets when thrown. The Germans now had no usable tanks in the city. Those tanks which still functioned could at best be used as makeshift pillboxes. The Soviets did not bother employing tanks in areas where the urban destruction restricted their mobility. A low-level Soviet envoy party (comprising Major Aleksandr Smyslov, Captain Nikolay Dyatlenko
Nikolay Dyatlenko
Captain Nikolay Dmitrevich Dyatlenko was a Ukrainian officer, interrogator and translator who was part of a team that attempted to deliver a message of truce to the German Sixth Army at the Battle of Stalingrad in January 1943...

 and a trumpeter) carried an offer to Paulus: if he surrendered within 24 hours, he would receive a guarantee of safety for all prisoners, medical care for the sick and wounded, prisoners allowed to keep their personal belongings, "normal" food rations, and repatriation to whatever country they wished to go to after the war; but Paulus—ordered not to surrender by Hitler—did not respond.

On 22 January Paulus requested that he be granted permission to surrender. Hitler rejected it on a point of honour. He telegraphed the 6th Army later that day, claiming that it had made an historic contribution to the greatest struggle in German history and that it should stand fast "to the last soldier and the last bullet". Hitler told Goebbels that the plight of the 6th Army was an "heroic drama of German history".

On 30 January 1943, the 10th anniversary of his coming to power, Hitler got Goebbels to read out a proclamation which included the sentence: "The heroic struggle of our soldiers on the Volga should be a warning for everybody to do the utmost for the struggle for Germany's freedom and the future of our people, and thus in a wider sense for the maintenance of our entire continent". Also on that day Hitler promoted Paulus to Generalfeldmarschall
Generalfeldmarschall
Field Marshal or Generalfeldmarschall in German, was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire; in the Austrian Empire, the rank Feldmarschall was used...

. Since no German Field Marshal had ever been taken prisoner, Hitler assumed that Paulus would fight on or take his own life. However, when Soviet forces closed in on his headquarters in the ruined GUM
State Universal Store
GUM is the name of the main department store in many cities of the former Soviet Union, known as State Department Store during the Soviet times. Similar-named stores were in some Soviet republics and post-Soviet states. The most famous GUM is a large store in the Kitai-gorod part of Moscow,...

 department store the next day, Paulus surrendered. The remnants of the Axis forces in Stalingrad surrendered on 2 February; 91,000 tired, ill, wounded, and starving prisoners were taken, including 3,000 Romanians (the survivors of the 20th Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division and “Col. Voicu” Detachment). To the delight of the Soviet forces and the dismay of the Third Reich, the prisoners included 22 generals. Hitler was furious and confided that Paulus "could have freed himself from all sorrow and ascended into eternity and national immortality, but he prefers to go to Moscow."
The German public was not officially told of the disaster until the end of January 1943, though positive media reports had stopped in the weeks before the announcement. Stalingrad marked the first time that the Nazi government publicly acknowledged a failure in its war effort; it was not the first major setback of the German military, but a crushing defeat where German losses were almost equal to those of the Soviets was unprecedented. Prior losses of the Soviet Union were generally three times as high as the German ones. On 31 January, regular programming on German state radio was replaced by a broadcast of the somber Adagio movement from Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, complex polyphony, and considerable length...

's Seventh Symphony
Symphony No. 7 (Bruckner)
Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E major is one of his best-known symphonies. It was written between 1881 and 1883 and was revised in 1885. It is dedicated to Ludwig II of Bavaria. The premiere, given under Arthur Nikisch and the Gewandhaus Orchestra in the opera house at Leipzig on 30...

, followed by the announcement of the defeat at Stalingrad.

On 18 February, Minister of Propaganda
Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
The Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was Nazi Germany's ministry that enforced Nazi Party ideology in Germany and regulated its culture and society. Founded on March 13, 1933, by Adolf Hitler's new National Socialist government, the Ministry was headed by Dr...

 Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 gave his famous Sportpalast speech
Sportpalast speech
The Sportpalast or total war speech was a speech delivered by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels at the Berlin Sportpalast to a large but carefully selected audience on 18 February 1943 calling for a total war, as the tide of World War II had turned against Nazi Germany and its Axis allies.It is...

 in Berlin, encouraging the Germans to accept a total war
Total war
Total war is a war in which a belligerent engages in the complete mobilization of fully available resources and population.In the mid-19th century, "total war" was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare...

 which would claim all resources and efforts from the entire population.
According to the German documentary film Stalingrad, over 11,000 soldiers refused to lay down their arms at the official surrender, presumably believing that fighting to the death was better than a slow end in Soviet camps. They continued to resist, hiding in cellars and sewers, but by early March 1943, the remaining small and isolated pockets of resistance had surrendered. According to Soviet intelligence documents shown in the documentary, a remarkable NKVD report from March 1943 is available showing the tenacity of some of these German groups: "The mopping-up of counter-revolutionary elements in the city of Stalingrad proceeded. The German-fascist bandits - who had hidden themselves in huts and trenches - offered armed resistance after combat actions had already ended. This armed resistance continued until 15 February and in a few areas until 20 February. Most of the armed groups were liquidated by March... During this period of armed conflict with the German-fascist bandits, the brigade's units killed 2.418 soldiers and officers and captured 8.646 soldiers and officers, escorting them to POW camps and handing them over". The operative report of the Don Front's staff issued on 5 February 1943, 22.00 says:
"...2.The 64th Army was putting itself in order, being in previously occupied regions. Location of army's units is as it was previously. In the region of location of the 38 Motorized Rifle Brigade in a basement 18 armed SS-men (sic) were found, who refused to surrender, the Germans found were destroyed. They gained time for the forces committed in the Third Battle of Kharkov that were supposed to link with them as part of a relieving force. In a report, Unteroffizier (O.A.) Karl-August Rombach from the Nachrichtenzug of II./Artillerie-Regiment 305 "stated his intention of using underground tunnels in the tractor factory to avoid captivity and await warmer weather. Many others had the same idea and thousands implemented their plans.

Of more than 91,000 German prisoners captured in Stalingrad, only about 5,000 ever returned. Already weakened by disease, starvation and lack of medical care during the encirclement, they were sent to labour camps all over the Soviet Union, where most of them died of their wounds, disease (particularly typhus
Typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

), cold, overwork, mistreatment, and malnutrition. Some were kept in the city to help with rebuilding. In March 1943, 40,000 Germans were buried in a mass grave, victims of a typhus epidemic. A handful of senior officers were taken to Moscow and used for propaganda purposes, and some of them joined the National Committee for a Free Germany
National Committee for a Free Germany
The National Committee for a Free Germany was a German anti-Nazi organization that operated in the Soviet Union during World War II.- History :...

. Some, including Paulus, signed anti-Hitler statements which were broadcast to German troops. Paulus lived in the Soviet Union until 1952, then moved to Dresden in East Germany, where he spent the remainder of his days defending his actions at Stalingrad and was quoted as saying that Communism was the best hope for postwar Europe. General Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach
Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach
Walther Kurt von Seydlitz-Kurzbach was a German general. He was born in Hamburg, Germany, into the noble Prussian Seydlitz family. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

 offered to raise an anti-Hitler army from the Stalingrad survivors, but the Soviets did not accept. It was not until 1955 that the last of the 5-6,000 survivors were repatriated
Repatriation
Repatriation is the process of returning a person back to one's place of origin or citizenship. This includes the process of returning refugees or soldiers to their place of origin following a war...

 after a plea to the Politburo
Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

 by Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was a German statesman. He was the chancellor of the West Germany from 1949 to 1963. He is widely recognised as a person who led his country from the ruins of World War II to a powerful and prosperous nation that had forged close relations with old enemies France,...

.

Orders of battle



Red Army

During the defence of Stalingrad, the Red Army deployed six armies8th, 28th, 51st, 57th, 62nd and 64th Armies in and around the city and an additional nine armies in the encirclement counter offensive.24th, 65th, 66th and 16th Air Army from the north as part of the Don Front offensive and 1st Guards, 5th Tank, 21st, 2nd Air and 17th Air Army from the south as part of the South Western Front

Axis

Casualties


Various scholars have estimated the Axis suffered from 500,000-850,000 casualties (killed, wounded, captured) among all branches of the German armed forces and its allies, many of them POWs who died in Soviet captivity between 1943 and 1955. Of the 91,000 German POWs taken at Stalingrad, 27,000 died within weeks and only 5-6,000 returned to Germany by 1955. The remainder of the POWs died in Soviet captivity. According to archival figures, the Red Army suffered a total of 1,129,619 total casualties; 478,741 men killed or missing and 650,878 wounded. These numbers are for the whole Stalingrad area; in the city itself 750,000 were killed, captured, or wounded. The Soviet authorities executed approximately 13,500 Soviet soldiers during the battle , equivalent to almost two rifle divisions. Also, anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 Soviet civilians died in Stalingrad and its suburbs during a single week of aerial bombing as the German 4th Panzer and 6th armies approached the city; the total number of civilians killed in the regions outside the city is unknown. In all, the battle resulted in an estimated total of 1.7-2 million Axis and Soviet casualties.

Scope of the battle


At different times, the Germans had held up to 90% of the city, yet the Soviet forces fought on fiercely. At the end of the battle, the Soviet armies had encircled and besieged the 6th Army. Some elements of the German 4th Panzer Army also suffered casualties in operations around Stalingrad during the Soviet counter-offensive.

German mobility had been a significant factor in the Wehrmacht's earlier victories. Before Stalingrad, the Soviets had been able to amass their forces in sufficient numbers to achieve victory only around Moscow. Stalingrad, which had limited military value and had already been stripped of its assets, could have been bypassed and invested by the 6th Army in its drive to the Caucasus with Army Group A. Instead, Hitler chose to sacrifice many of his most experienced troops in vicious street fighting among urban rubble, which favoured the defenders and gave the Soviet Union time to amass and concentrate its forces for its pincer movement. Some Germans felt Hitler had sacrificed one of his largest and finest armies for prestige. The 6th Army was reconstituted in time for the Battle of Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

, but was made up mostly of conscripts, and was never again the force it had once been.

A significant factor in Germany's failure at Stalingrad was Hitler's pursuit of too many simultaneous objectives. To the South of Stalingrad, Army Group A was committed to capturing oilfields in the Caucasus and in particular at Baku in Azerbaijan. These oil fields were the original objective of the 1942 campaign, and he could have used Army Group A to bolster Army Group B's flanks around Stalingrad and perhaps to aid in fighting within the city. Clearly Hitler's ambitions were well beyond German means.

Besides being a turning point in the war, Stalingrad revealed the discipline and determination of both the German Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

and the Soviet Red Army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

. The Soviets first defended Stalingrad against a fierce German onslaught. So great were Soviet losses that at times, the life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 of a newly arrived soldier was less than a day, and the life expectancy of a Soviet officer was three days. Their sacrifice is immortalized by one of General Rodimtsev
Alexander Rodimtsev
Aleksandr Ilich Rodimtsev was a Colonel-General in the Soviet Red Army during World War II and twice won the Hero of the Soviet Union award .Rodimtsev joined the Red Army in the 1920s...

's soldiers, about to die, who scratched on the wall of the main railway station—which changed hands 15 times during the battle—“Rodimtsev’s Guardsmen fought and died here for their Motherland.”

A significant historical debate concerns the degree of terror in the Red Army. The British historian Anthony Beevor noted the claim from the Stalingrad Front’s Political Department on 8 October 1942 that: “The defeatist mood is almost eliminated and the number of treasonous incidents is getting lower” as an example of the sort of coercion that the Special Detachments (later to be renamed SMERSH
SMERSH
SMERSH was the counter-intelligence agency in the Red Army formed in late 1942 or even earlier, but officially founded on April 14, 1943. The name SMERSH was coined by Joseph Stalin...

) subjected the Red Army soldiers to. On the other hand, Beevor noted the often extraordinary bravery of the Soviet soldiers in a battle that was only comparable to Verdun, and argued that such self-sacrifice cannot be explained by terror alone.

For the heroism of the Soviet defenders of Stalingrad, the city was awarded the title Hero City
Hero City
Hero City is a Soviet honorary title awarded for outstanding heroism during the German-Soviet War of 1941 to 1945. It was awarded to twelve cities of the Soviet Union. In addition the Brest Fortress was awarded an equivalent title of Hero-Fortress...

 in 1945. Twenty-four years after the battle, in October 1967, a colossal monument, Mother Motherland
The Motherland Calls
The Motherland Calls, , also called Mother Motherland, Mother Motherland Is Calling, simply The Motherland, or The Mamayev Monument, is a statue in Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd, Russia commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad. It was designed by sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich and structural engineer...

, was erected on Mamayev Kurgan
Mamayev Kurgan
Mamayev Kurgan is a dominant height overlooking the city of Volgograd in Southern Russia. The name in Russian means "tumulus of Mamai"....

, the hill overlooking the city. The statue forms part of a War memorial
War memorial
A war memorial is a building, monument, statue or other edifice to celebrate a war or victory, or to commemorate those who died or were injured in war.-Historic usage:...

 complex which includes ruined walls deliberately left the way they were after the battle. The Grain Silo, as well as Pavlov's House
Pavlov's House
Pavlov's House became the name of a fortified apartment building during the Battle of Stalingrad from 27 September, 1942 to February 2, 1943...

, the apartment building whose defenders eventually held out for two months until they were relieved, can still be visited. Even today one may find bones and rusty metal splinters on Mamayev Kurgan, symbols of both the human suffering during the battle and the successful yet costly resistance.

Many women fought on the Soviet side, or were under fire. At the beginning of the battle there were 75,000 women and girls from the Stalingrad area who had finished military or medical training, and all of whom were to serve in the battle. Women staffed many of the anti-aircraft batteries that fought not only the Luftwaffe but also German tanks. Soviet nurses not only treated wounded men under fire but were involved in the highly dangerous work of bringing wounded soldiers back to the hospitals under enemy fire. Many of the Soviet wireless and telephone operators were women who often suffered heavy casualties when their command posts came under fire. Though women were not usually trained as infantry, many Soviet women fought as machine gunners, mortar operators, snipers and scouts. With three entirely female air regiments, women were fulfilling the role of pilots, as well. At least three women won the title Hero of the Soviet Union while driving tanks at Stalingrad.

The German Army showed remarkable discipline after being surrounded. It was the first time that it had operated under adverse conditions on such a scale. During the latter part of the siege, short of food and clothing, many German soldiers starved or froze to death. Yet, discipline was maintained until the very end, when resistance no longer served any useful purpose. Friedrich Paulus obeyed Hitler's orders, against many of Hitler's top generals' counsel and advice, and did not attempt to break out of the city. German ammunition, supplies, and food became all too scarce.

Paulus knew that the airlift had failed and that Stalingrad was lost. He asked for permission to surrender to save the lives of his troops, but Hitler refused and instead promoted him to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall
Generalfeldmarschall
Field Marshal or Generalfeldmarschall in German, was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire; in the Austrian Empire, the rank Feldmarschall was used...

. No German officer of this rank had ever surrendered, and the implication was clear: if Paulus surrendered, he would shame himself and would become the highest ranking German officer ever to be captured. Hitler believed that Paulus would either fight to the last man or commit suicide. Paulus surrendered, commenting, "I have no intention of shooting myself for this Bohemian corporal". (Beevor, p. 381.)Für so einen Schweinehund wie den böhmischen Gefreiten erschieße ich mich nicht! (engl: I am not going to shoot myself for such a swine as this Bohemian corporal!), quoted in: "Ich bitte erschossen zu werden", Der Spiegel, 01-29-1949

In popular culture


The extreme conditions of the battle, including the paralyzing Soviet winter that precipitated massive German fatalities due to starvation and freezing, have been immortalized in several films of German
Stalingrad (film)
Stalingrad is a 1993 war drama film directed by Joseph Vilsmaier. It depicts combat on the Eastern Front of World War II, specifically the Battle of Stalingrad and showing the German Wehrmacht in a sympathetic light....

, Russian, British and American
Enemy at the Gates
Enemy at the Gates is a 2001 war film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, starring Joseph Fiennes, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins and Ed Harris set during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II....

 origin. The struggle is also remembered and reflected upon in numerous books, for its significance in thwarting the German invasion
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, as well as its significance as a landmark of military barbarism and human suffering in which the loss of life was unprecedented.

See also

  • Barmaley Fountain
    Barmaley Fountain
    The Barmaley was a fountain in the city of Stalingrad, installed in front of the Museum of Defense of Tsaritsyn. Its official name was Children's Khorovod. The statue was of a circle of six children dancing around a crocodile...

  • Hungary during World War II
    Hungary during World War II
    Hungary during World War II was a member of the Axis powers. In the 1930s, the Kingdom of Hungary relied on increased trade with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to pull itself out of the Great Depression. By 1938, Hungarian politics and foreign policy had become increasingly pro-Fascist Italian and...

  • Independent State of Croatia
    Independent State of Croatia
    The Independent State of Croatia was a World War II puppet state of Nazi Germany, established on a part of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. The NDH was founded on 10 April 1941, after the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers. All of Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed to NDH, together with some parts...

  • Italian participation in the Eastern Front
  • List of officers and commanders in the Battle of Stalingrad
  • Romanian Armies in the Battle of Stalingrad
    Romanian Armies in the Battle of Stalingrad
    Two Romanian armies, the Third and the Fourth, were involved in the Battle of Stalingrad, helping to protect the northern and southern flanks respectively of the German 6th Army as it tried to conquer the city of Stalingrad, defended by the Soviet Red Army in mid to late 1942...

  • Sword of Stalingrad
    Sword of Stalingrad
    The Sword of Stalingrad is a bejewelled ceremonial longsword specially forged and inscribed by command of George VI of the United Kingdom as a token of homage from the British people to the Soviet defenders of the city during the Battle of Stalingrad...


Additional sources


  • Antill, Peter (2007). Stalingrad 1942, Osprey Publishing, London. ISBN 1846030285
  • Biesinger, Joseph A. (2006). Germany: a reference guide from the Renaissance to the present. Infobase Publishing
    Infobase Publishing
    Infobase Publishing is an American publisher of reference book titles and textbooks geared towards the North American library, secondary school, and university-level curriculum markets. The company was founded in 1941 with its headquarters based in New York...

    , New York City. ISBN 9780816045211
  • Corum, James S. (2008). Wolfram von Richthofen: Master of the German Air War. Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-1598-8.
  • Dibold, Hans (2001) Doctor at Stalingrad. Littleton, CO: Aberdeen, (hardcover, ISBN 0-9713852-1-1).
  • Holl, Adelbert. (2005) An Infantryman In Stalingrad: From 24 September 1942 to 2 February 1943. Pymble, NSW, Australia: Leaping Horseman Books (hardcover, ISBN 0-9751076-1-5).
  • Hoyt, Edwin Palmer. (1999) 199 Days: The Battle for Stalingrad. New York: A Forge Book, (paperback, ISBN 0-312-86853-7).
  • Jones, Michael K. (2007) Stalingrad: How the Red Army Survived the German Onslaught. Drexel Hill, PA: Casemate, (hardcover, ISBN 978-1-932033-72-4)
  • Mayer, SL & Taylor, AJP (1974). History of World War II. London: Octopus Books. ISBN 0-7064-0399-1 & ISBN 978-0-7064-0399-2
  • Raus, Erhard. Panzer Operations: The Eastern Front Memoir of General Raus, 1941–1945, compiled and translated by Steven H. Newton. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2003 (hardcover, ISBN 0-306-81247-9); 2005 (paperback, ISBN 0-306-81409-9).
  • Roberts, Geoffrey. (2002) Victory at Stalingrad: The Battle that Changed History. New York: Longman, (paperback, ISBN 0-582-77185-4).
  • —— (2006) Stalin's wars: from World War to Cold War, 1939-1953. Yale University Press, ISBN 0300112041
  • Samsonov A.M., (1989) Stalingrad Battle, 4th ed. re-edited and added-to, Moscow, Science publishing. (in Russian)
  • Snyder, David R. (2005). Review in The Journal of Military History Volume 69 (1).


External links