In Russian history, there are events, gold burning on the tables of her military glory. And one of them – the Battle of Stalingrad (July 17, 1942-2 February 1943), which became the Cannams of the XX century. Giant in scale battle WWII unfolded in the second half of 1942 on the banks of the Volga. At some stages, more than 2 million people, about 30,000 guns, more than 2,000 aircraft and the same number of tanks participated on both sides from both sides. During the Battle of Stalingrad the Wehrmacht lost a quarter of its forces concentrated on the Eastern Front. His losses were killed, missing and wounded – amounted to about one and a half million soldiers and officers.
Stages of the Battle of Stalingrad, its prerequisites
By the nature of the fighting, the Battle of Stalingrad is divided into two periods. These are defensive operations (July 17 – November 18, 1942) and offensive operations (November 19, 1942 – February 2, 1943). After the failure
of the Barbarossa plan and the defeat near Moscow, the Nazis were preparing for a new offensive on the Eastern Front. On April 5, Hitler issued a directive specifying the purpose of the summer campaign of 1942. This is the mastery of the oil-bearing regions of the Caucasus and the access to the Volga in the Stalingrad region. On June 28, the Wehrmacht took a decisive offensive, taking Donbas, Rostov, Voronezh… Stalingrad was a major communications hub connecting the central regions of the country with the Caucasus and Central Asia. And the Volga is an important transport artery for the delivery of Caucasian oil. The capture of Stalingrad could have catastrophic consequences for the USSR.
Stalingrad battle – fighting on the outskirts
To protect the city, the Soviet command formed the Stalingrad Front, led by Marshal SK Timoshenko. The Battle of Stalingrad began briefly on July 17, when in the bend of the Don the units of the 62nd Army entered into battle with the vanguard of the 6th Wehrmacht Army. Defensive battles on the outskirts of Stalingrad lasted 57 days and nights. On July 28, the
People’s Commissar of Defense JV Stalin issued Order No. 227, known more as “Not a step back!”. Toward the beginning of a decisive offensive, the German command markedly strengthened the 6th Army of Paulus. The superiority in tanks was twofold, in aircraft – almost fourfold. And at the end of July, from the Caucasus direction, the 4th Panzer Army was also transferred here. And, nevertheless, the advance of the fascists to the Volga could not be called rapid. For a month they managed to overcome only 60 kilometers under the desperate blows of the Soviet troops. To strengthen the south-western approaches to Stalingrad, the South-Eastern Front was created under the command of General AI Eremenko. Meanwhile, the Nazis began active operations in the Caucasus direction. But thanks to the dedication of Soviet soldiers, the Germans’ advance into the interior of the Caucasus was halted.
Stalingrad battle: every house is a fortress
August 19 was the Black Date of the Battle of Stalingrad – the tank grouping of the Paulus army broke through to the Volga. Moreover, by cutting off the 62nd Army that defended the city from the north from the main forces of the front. Attempts to destroy the 8 km long corridor formed by the enemy’s troops did not succeed. Although Soviet soldiers were examples of amazing heroism. 33 fighters of the 87th rifle division defending the height in the area of Malye Rossoshki became an invincible stronghold on the way of superior enemy forces. During the day they desperately repulsed the attacks of 70 tanks and a battalion of Hitlerites, leaving on the battlefield 150 dead soldiers and 27 podbiti cars. August 23 Stalingrad was subjected to the most severe bombing of German aviation. Several hundred aircraft attacked industrial and residential areas, turning them into ruins. And the German command continued to build up forces on the Stalingrad direction. By the end of September, Army Group B had more than 80 divisions. To help Stalingrad, the 66th and 24th armies were sent from the reserve of the Supreme Headquarters. On September 13, two powerful groups, supported by 350 tanks, began the assault on the central part of the city. The struggle for the city, unprecedented in courage and intensity, began – the most terrible stage of the Battle of Stalingrad. For each building, for every inch of the ground, the soldiers stood to death, staining them with blood. General Rodimtsev called the battle in the building the heaviest fight. After all, there are no usual notions of flanks, rear, behind every corner, the enemy can hide. The city was continuously bombarded and bombed, the earth burned, the Volga burned. From the oil tanks pierced by shells, the oil streamed into the dugouts and trenches with fiery streams. An example of selfless valor of Soviet soldiers was almost two-month defense of Pavlov’s house. After knocking out the enemy from a four-story building on Penzenskaya street, a group of scouts led by sergeant Ya. F. Pavlov turned the house into an impregnable fortress. To storm the city, the enemy was sent another 200 thousand trained replenishment, 90 artillery divisions, 40 engineer battalions… Hitler hysterically demanded at any cost to take the Volga “citadel”. The commander of the Paulus army battalion G. Welz subsequently wrote that he remembers this as a terrible dream. “In the morning, five German battalions go on the attack and almost no one returns.” The next morning, everything repeats again… ” The approaches to Stalingrad really covered the corpses of soldiers and the skeletons of the burned tanks. No wonder the Germans called the way to the city “the road of death.”
Stalingrad battle – “Thunderstorm” and “Thunder” against “Uranus”
The Soviet command developed the plan “Uranus” for the defeat of the Nazis at Stalingrad. He was to cut off the shock grouping of the enemy from the main forces with powerful flank strokes and, surrounding, destroy. Army Group B, headed by General Field Marshal Bock, included 1011,500 soldiers and officers, more than 10,000 guns, 1,200 aircraft, and so on. The three Soviet fronts defending the city included 1,103,000 guns, personnel, 15501 guns, 1350 aircraft. That is, the advantage of the Soviet side was insignificant. Therefore, a decisive victory could be achieved only through military art. On November 19, units of the Southwestern and Don Fronts, and on November 20 and Stalingrad, on both sides, brought down tons of fiery metal on Bock’s location. After the breakthrough of enemy defense, the troops began to develop an offensive in operational depth. The meeting of the Soviet fronts took place on the fifth day of the offensive, on November 23, in the Kalach and Sovetsky area. Not wanting to put up with the defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad. The Hitlerite command made an attempt to unblock the surrounded army of Paulus. But the operations “Winter Storm” and “Thunder Strike” initiated by them in the middle of December ended in failure. Now conditions were created for the complete destruction of the encircled troops. The operation for their elimination was given the conventional name “Ring”. Out of the 330,000 Hitlerites surrounded by Hitler, by January 1943 there were no more than 250,000. But the group was not going to capitulate. It had in service more than 4,000 guns, 300 tanks, 100 aircraft. Paulus later wrote in his memoirs: ” On the one hand, there were unconditional orders to keep, promises of help, references to the general situation. On the other hand, internal humanitarian motives are to stop the struggle caused by the distress of soldiers. “On January 10, 1943, the Soviet troops began the operation” Ring. “The Battle of Stalingrad entered its final phase, the enemy group pressed against the Volga and divided into two parts surrender.
Meaning of the Battle of Stalingrad
The victory in the Battle of Stalingrad had a huge international and military-political significance for the USSR. It marked a radical change during the Second World War. After Stalingrad, the period of the expulsion of German invaders from the territory of the USSR came. Becoming the triumph of Soviet military art, the Battle of Stalingrad briefly strengthened the camp of the anti-Hitler coalition and caused discord in the countries of the fascist bloc. Some Western historians, trying to belittle the significance of the Battle of Stalingrad. put it on a par with the Tunisian battle (1943), under Al-Alamein (1942), etc. But Hitler himself denied them, who stated on February 1, 1943 at his rate: “The possibility of ending the war in the East by way of an offensive no longer exists… “