Victory at Stalingrad!

On this day in 1943, the final northern pocket of German resistance in Stalingrad capitulated and surrendered to Soviet forces; the other two pockets of German resistance had surrendered on January 31. Initially in the German war with the Soviets there was much success and the Wehrmacht has pushed within thirty-five kilometers of Moscow. Operations Barbarossa and Blue had advanced hundreds of kilometers. Still, it was never enough to please Hitler and not enough to defeat the Soviet Union. Hitler ignored numerous recommendations from his own generals, stretched his supply lines beyond reasonable limits and split his southern offensive up between going for the oil fields of Baku and Stalingrad concurrently. There was no easy victory in Stalingrad; house to house fighting greatly slowed down the German advance and the Soviet defenders proved very tenacious.

The fighting dragged on into the winter and eventually Operation Uranus launched by the Soviets completely encircled the 6th German Army by November 22nd. Hitler refused to allow von Paulus’ 6th Army and supporting troops to break out through the southwest and claimed that other forces German forces would push through to reach them. There were no successful German attempts to break through the encirclement and the Luftwaffe was never able to bring close to enough supplies to support the doomed soldiers. Of the hundreds of thousands of surrounded German soldiers, only 6,000 would ever return home. There was no victory for the Nazis in Stalingrad, only death and defeat.

There are few movies made from the German perspective of WWII; there are also very few movies made by the German people themselves on the topic. Stalingrad was a German movie released in 1993 and I highly recommend watching it. It’s well worth your time.

Here’s another interesting video about the Battle of Stalingrad.

Here are some maps illustrating the initial German advance through the Soviet Union:

1 2

An illustration of the Soviet Winter Offensive during 1941-1942:

3

The German Southern Offensive during the summer of 1942:

4 5

Operation Uranus and the Soviet Winter advance:

6 7

The encirclement of von Paulus’ 6th Army and supporting forces:

11 16

Here’s the text of the Russian Ultimatum delivered to von Paulus on January 7, 1943:

To the Commander in Chief of the German Sixth Army,
 Colonel General Paulus, or his representative
and to all the officers and men of the German
units now besieged in Stalingrad.

The Sixth Army, formations of the Fourth Panzer Army, and those units sent to reinforce them
have been completely encircled since the 23rd of November, 1942.

The soldiers of the Red Army have sealed this German Army Group within an unbreakable
ring. All hopes of the rescue of your troops by a German offensive from the south or
south-west have proved vain. The German units hastening to your assistance were defeated
by the Red Army, and the remnants are now redrawing to Rostow.

The German air transport fleet, which brought you a starvation ration of food, munitions and
fuel has been compolled by the Red Army’s succesful and rapid advance repeatedly to
withdraw to airfields more distant from the encircled troops. It should be added that the
German air transport fleet is suffering enormous losses in machines and crews at the hands
of the Russian Airforce. The help they can bring to the besieged forces is rapidly becoming
illusory.

The situation of your troops is desperate. They are suffering from hunger, sickness and cold.
The cruel Russian winter has scarcely yet begun. Hard frosts, cold winds and blizzards still
lie ahead. Your soldiers are unprovided with winter clothing and are living in appalling
sanitary conditions.

You, as Commander in Chief, and all the officers of the encircled forces know well that there
is for you no real possibility of breaking out. Your situation is hopeless, and any further
resisitance senseless.

In view of the desperate situation in which you are placed, and in order to save unnecessary
bloodshed, we propose that you except the following terms of surrender :

1) All the encircled German troops, headed by yourself and your staff, shall cease to resist.

2) You will hand over to such persons as shall be authorised by us, all members of your
armed forces, all war materials and all army equipment in an undamaged condition.

3) We guarantee the safety of all officers and men who cease to resist, and their return after
the end of the war to Germany or to any other country to which these prisoners of war
may wish to go.

4) All personell of units which surrender may retain their military uniforms, badges of rank,
decorations, personal belongings and valuables and, in case of high ranking officers their
swords.

5) All officers, non-commissioned officers and men who surrender will immediately receive
normal rations.

6)All those are wounded, sick of frost-bitten will be given medical treatment.

Your reply is to be given in writing by ten o’clock, Moscow time the 9th of January 1943.
It must be delivered by your personal representative, who is to travel in a car bearing a white
flag along the road that leads tothe Konny siding at Kotlubanj station. Your representative
will be met by fully authorised Russian officers in District B, 500 metres south-east of siding
564 at 10.00hrs. on the 9th of January, 1943.
Should you refuse our offer that you lay down in your arms, we hereby give you notice
that the forces of the Red Army and the Red Airforce will be compelled to proceed with
the distruction of the encircled German tropps. The responsibility for this will lie with you.

 Representing Headquarters Red Army Supreme Command,
 Colonel General of the Artillery Voronov.
The Commander in Chief of the Forces of the Don front,
 Lieutenant General Rokossovski.

Here’s the text in Russian for anyone who’s interested.

A Russian stamp commemorating the victory at Stalingrad:

Souvenir_sheet_of_Russia_stamp_no._716_-_60th_anniversary_of_the_Battle_of_Moscow

Yakov Pavlov and Pavlov’s House is an interesting story to read.

pavlov-and-house

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