NewsHow Stalingrad became the symbol of Soviet resistance 80 years ago

    How Stalingrad became the symbol of Soviet resistance 80 years ago

    On this day 80 years ago, the Red Army defeated besieged German troops in the Soviet city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd), ending the 200-day Battle of Stalingrad, the largest in history, which marked the beginning of the end of the Hitler offensive on Soviet territory.

    On the occasion of this anniversary, the Russian Ministry of Defense has launched a historical section on its website that includes some documents from its Central Archive on the key moments of that crucial episode in the history of the Second World War.

    Read Also:   The ELN warns that the peace dialogue table with the Government of Colombia is in crisis

    The outcome of the battle, dated February 2, 1943was preceded by a series of defeats of four armies from Romania, Hungary and Italy, Nazi Germany’s satellite countries in that contest, which also participated in the battle until December 1942. However, defeatism was already visible in the letters and diaries of German officers in the months before the Red Army counteroffensive.

    One of them, belonging to the 79th Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht, noted in his diary on October 23, 1943:

    “Stalingrad has not yet been taken. Later they will nickname it ‘the Verdun’ of this war. The fight for Stalingrad has lasted longer than [toda] the war against France. My mood drops again.” The same officer wrote days later: “Sometimes I fall into despair, but I will of course fight against this damn feeling.”

    Next, the same officer is struck by the idea of ​​his future responsibility for what he and other invaders were doing to the Soviet people:

    “Sometimes I think that maybe one day my children will meet the same fate as many Russians.”

    The fate of the Wehrmacht soldiers and officers themselves was always on the Stalingrad front. Already in the first days of fighting in the streets of the city, the 13th Guards Rifle Divisionwhich was taking part in the defense of the city caused 2,000 casualties to Hitler’s troops, destroyed 18 tanks, 30 cars and up to 50 animal-drawn carts with food and ammunition, according to the political command of the Southeast Front reported on September 22. from 1942.

    Read Also:   Lavrov: "The US tries to dictate its policy to Algeria, but it attacked the wrong country"

    The total losses of the Wehrmacht and other armies of the Axis countries came to a million and a half people (among dead, wounded, missing and prisoners). The figure is equivalent to almost a quarter of all the forces that this coalition had deployed in the East. The defenders of Stalingrad also suffered heavy casualties, which were around 480,000 strong.

    Special priority and secrecy

    From the beginning of Hitler’s offensive in the direction of the lower Volga, the Supreme Headquarters of the USSR Armed Forces prioritized the defense of Stalingrad among all theaters of operations. An order of the entity, headed by Iosif Stalin, indicated that “the defense of Stalingrad and the defeat of the enemy that goes from the west and the south towards Stalingrad are of decisive importance for our entire Soviet front.”

    In order to guarantee maximum secrecy during the planning of operations, the Soviet command resorted to special coding of the surnames of those responsible for decision-making and operational management. Thus, Stalin himself became ‘Vasiliev’, while the future ‘Marshal of Victory’, the then General Georgy Zhukov became ‘Konstantinov’.

    On September 3, 1942, Stalin withdrew Zhukov from the Western Front and charged him a day later with preparing an “acceleration of the attack to prevent the fall of Stalingrad.” Shortly after he began the counteroffensive of a group of troops that held back the enemy in the Don steppes —where Hitler’s troops had broken through the Soviet defense— forcing him to concentrate forces in the counteroffensive area, taking them away from the main attack line, which was Stalingrad. The operation frustrated plans for a quick takeover of the citywhich then had a population of almost one million people and from which only a third of civilians had been evacuated.

    On November 15, ‘Konstantinov’ received a telegram from Stalin granting him decision-making autonomy on “the relocation of Fyodorov and Ivanov” within two days before or after. ‘Fyodorov’ was the code name of Nikolai Vatunin, leader of the Southwestern Front, while ‘Ivanov’ was Commander Andrei Yeriomenko.

    The term ‘relocation’ was intended to designate a two-front counteroffensive north and south of Stalingrad known to history as strategic operation ‘Uranus’. After 80 minutes of relentless artillery fire, ‘Fyodorov’ began ‘relocation’ on November 19 and attacked ‘Ivanov’ a day later.

    Low morale and self harm

    In addition to the enormous casualties, the documents kept in the archives expose the increase in cases of frostbite of limbs among the German military during the battle. Many cases were “related to deliberate self-harm,” a command order from the 371st Infantry Division revealed. In this way, the German soldiers were desperately looking for a way to escape the siege aboard a transport plane that only evacuated the seriously wounded.

    The defeat and performance of the German troops in Stalingrad led to a drop in staff morale, as was reflected in a small anonymous poll carried out among German prisoners of war.

    According to the results, now taken from the archives, only five of the 100 respondents were convinced of Germany’s victory, while another 43 answered that the USSR would win and 12 evoked a joint victory for the Russians, British and Americans in the contest.

    The ‘cauldron’ and the ‘ring’

    Within several days of the start of the counteroffensive, the German General’s 6th Army Friedrich Paulus and part of the Romanian, Italian and Hungarian armies were surrounded and pocketed by the Soviet troops in the so-called ‘cauldron’ (‘kessel’ in German). A total of 22 divisions that added together more than 300,000 effective they had been trapped.

    Adolf Hitler did not allow Paulus to withdraw his troops to the west and ordered him to hold out “at any cost” in the city, 80% of which was occupied by the Germans by the end of October. In December, the Wehrmacht’s Army Group Don made a final attempt to break out of the 6th Army, but the operation failed, while the Soviet command activated a plan for its destruction.

    Within the framework of the call operation ‘Koltso’ (‘Ring’ in Russian), the forces of the encircled enemy were divided into two groups, the southern one being under the direct command of Paulus. The general reported to Hitler on January 24, 1943: “defeat is imminent. To save those who are still alive, the army asks for your permission to surrender.” The Fuhrer forbade it and insisted on resistance to the last soldier, an order that the southern group did not comply with, ceasing to resist on January 31.

    Interview with Alejandra Soler, Spanish survivor of the Battle of Stalingrad

    The northern group continued fighting in the completely destroyed urban neighborhoods until February 2, when 40,000 soldiers and officers laid down their arms and surrendered to the Red Army.

    At the end of that day, Colonel General Konstantin Rokossovsky, in command of the Don Front, and a representative of the Supreme General Headquarters, Artillery Marshal Nikolai Voronov, informed Stalin: “In compliance with your order, the troops of the Don Front Don completed the defeat and elimination of the enemy’s Stalingrad grouping at 16:00 (local time) on 2.02.43. complete destruction of the encircled troops of the enemythe war actions in the city and on the outskirts of Stalingrad have ended”.

    This victory shifted the strategic initiative entirely to the politico-military command of the Soviet Union, creating the conditions for a general offensive by the Red Army.

    Alexei Vlasov

    Source: RT

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    ten − three =

    Subscribe & Get Latest News