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Battle for Stalingrad: Some RARE pictures

"The troops of the Don Front at 4 pm on the 2nd February 1943 completed the rout and destruction of the encircled group of enemy forces in Stalingrad. Twenty two division have been destroyed or taken prisoner."

- Lieutenant General Rokossovski - February 1943

A Russian gun booms on the streets of Stalingrad.

The disaster of Stalingrad profoundly shocked the German people and armed forces alike...Never before in Germany's history had so large a body of troops come to so dreadful an end. 
- General Siegfried von Westphal - 1943

Early on the morning of 23 August 1942, the 16th Panzer Division raced eastwards over the steppe from the river Don. That same evening, it halted on the bank of the Volga. The tank crews gazed across towards Asia. They had reached the designated boundary of the Third Reich's eastern territories. Messerschmitt fighters performed victory rolls above their heads. Many soldiers thought that the war was won. To their right, the city of Stalingrad blazed from the first of General von Richthofen's air raids, which killed 40,000 civilians. The only resistance the panzer crews faced came from anti-aircraft guns operated by young women barely out of high school. 'We had to fight shot for shot', the division reported, 'against thirty-seven flak positions manned by tenacious fighting women until they were all destroyed.' Thus began the most pitiless, and perhaps the most important, battle in history.

No this is not Hiroshima or Nagasaki. This is Stalingrad.

Hitler had told General Friedrich Paulus that with his Sixth Army, the most powerful in the Wehrmacht, he could 'storm the heavens'. But then, in a bold encirclement by Soviet armoured forces, over a quarter of a million Germans were trapped far from home, and increasingly far from help. Stalingrad marked not just the psychological turning-point of the war, it was the first major modern battle fought in a city, with thousands of helpless civilians caught up in its horrors. In this titanic struggle between Stalin and Hitler, men were driven beyond the limits of physical and mental endurance. National loyalties were also dislocated. Paulus's Sixth Army depended on 50,000 Soviet citizens in German uniform, while the NKVD used German Communist writers in its tactics to wear down the besieged.

The Germans spring into action.

In November 1942, after failing to defeat the besieged city of Stalingrad and as the Russian winter approached, tens of thousands of German soldiers found themselves isolated, surrounded by Soviet troops, without food or any prospect of reinforcements. Against this background, various rumors developed. In the German camp, soldiers spread the story that, one night, covertly and disguised as a corporal, Hitler himself visited his despairing troops and promised them that he would quickly send them food and reinforcements and that victory was close at hand.

During this very same period, on the other side of the battlefield, rumors spread that Stalin had visited the city named after him, covertly, of course, to encourage his troops and raise their morale. He too promised them a sweeping victory.
The destruction of Stalingrad as seen from the skies.


This photo perhaps symbolises the fortunes of Nazi Germany henceforth.


By the shore were people, including many children. Using small spades, as well
as their hands, they dug holes to hide from bullets and artillery shells. Atdawn
German planes appeared over the Volga. On a hedge-hopping flight they flew
over a ferry and bombed and opened fire from machine guns. From above, it was very well visible to the pilots, that on the shore civilians were waiting. Many
times we saw enemy pilots acting as professional assassins. They opened fire on
the unarmed women and children and selected targets so as to maximize the
number of people killed. The pilots dropped bombs in a crowd at the moment
they were beginning to board a boat, fired at the decks of the boats, and
bombed islands on which hundreds of wounded had accumulated. The people
crossed the river not only on boats and barges. They sailed on overcrowded
boats, even on logs, barrels, and boards bound with wire. And on each floating
point the fascists opened fire from the air. It was hunting of the people.

K.S. Bogdanova.

Russian soldiers have a bite to eat.


Soviet Armies 62, 65, 66 were mobilised with full artillery support on the
last day of January and into the first day of February. The Soviet
artillery had moved their guns into firing positions in close proximity to
the German lines. All available Soviet bombers had been made ready,
confident of success because an effective air blockade and anti-aircraft
effort was in place. German fighter aircraft would be unable to get through
this blockade. The soviet guns were shooting in a tiered position, one being
higher than the other. First the lower gun would fire and then the higher.
Eight artillery regiments supported the 214th infantry division and this was
in excess of what had originally been planned. At daybreak the tremendous
artillery bombardment began. After three to five minutes, German soldiers
were seen creeping out of their trenches, fleeing their tanks and abandoning
cellars. Soldiers dropped to their knees -- lifting their arms in surrender.
Others dashed back into their trenches and shelters and disappeared into the
smoke and fire. The areas around the factory had turned into flame and
destruction. The artillery barrage continued all day while the Russian
bombers flew sortie after sortie unopposed. Of the German troops, both north
and south, that continued to fight on against overwhelming odds, by nine o'
clock on the morning of the thirty-first of January, the southern group was
no longer an effective force.

Early in the morning on February 1st, the German Generals, Rosske and
Schmidt reluctantly accepted the surrender terms offered to them and gave
the order to immediately stop fighting to the southern section of the German
army. The soldiers were to surrender as a group.
Despite the order to surrender, one German company held out and this was
600-700 meters south of the school building. Major I. M. Ryjob of the
64th Soviet Intelligence Agency went with three Germans to persuade this
hold-out company to surrender. As the major's automobile approached the
school, with the German translators, he was able to transmit the order of
General Rosske to cease fighting immediately due to the fact that formal
talks about general capitulation were about to begin.

On February 2nd, more than 40,000 soldiers and officers of the northern
group of German troops surrendered to the overwhelming pressure. Field
Marshal Paulus was said to have given an order that the northern army stops
fighting. At a later date he stated that he had never given such an order.
General Strekker, who was the commander of the northern army, also stated
that he had never ordered them to stop fighting. During the period of
January 10 to February 2, 1943, Soviet troops under the command of General
K. K. Rokossovsky smashed through 22 enemy divisions with more than 160
different attached units of the German 6th Army. 91,000 Germans, including
2,500 officers and 24 generals were captured. In these battles, the enemy
had lost nearly 140,000 soldiers and officers. The Soviet Air Force and
anti-aircraft guns had damaged or destroyed more than 800 German aircraft.

STALINGRAD NOV 1942 German Wartime Newsreel


Divisional commander Sokolov reported an interesting incident to me on 23 January. While entering the western reaches of the Red October settlement, his troops encountered and surrounded a heavily reinforced German position. The prevent the loss of any more lives, the German garrison was offered capitulation terms. After lengthy negotiations, the Germans asked our troops for some bread. Our troops pitied the enemy and sent over several loaves. After recieving the bread and consuming it, the Germans resumed firing.After seeing such "diplomatic relations" our troops contacted the artillerymen. They brought forward several guns and completely annihilated the German stronghold at point blank range.


 V.I. Chuikov's book - "The battle of Stalingrad" .


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Points To Ponder


It is difficult to distinguish between the quality of both the German and Russian soldiers. Both were motivated by their love for their motherland. But there were others factors that drove the two sides to such desperate fighting.

One, both sides knew that this was a no-holds bar war. Not fighting was thus not an option.

Second, both Hitler and Stalin had squads that killed any deserter. Turning away from fighting was just not possible.

Thus was seen some of the most bitter, brutal and desperate fighting on the WW2 eastern (Russian) Front.
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-- George Santayana


"Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue.'
--Mao Zedong

Your Comments

Senior Observer said...

The reason the German soldier did not rape and loot as the other armies did. Including the US. (I was there) was the discipline. Half the troops or at least a great number of troops on my train to the front were AWOL's or deserters. That would not have happened in the German military. You left your post you were shot. Simple as that. Germans knew that so deserting was not an option. But the ordinary soldier knew that also applied to the officers. You did your duty or else.Remember Rommel? Hitler didn't care. Just follow orders. The respect for the officer by the ordinary soldier was good. I didn't have much respect for our officers. For months after the war we were still drinking instant coffee and instant milk. The general was living it up in London I suppose because I never saw him afterwards even though I was in 3rd DIVARTY Have a nice day


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Great Comments

"The photos are nice, but I hate the way the nazis are portrayed. They are portrayed as always evil. Think about it. What do you think would happen when a country loses WWI? When they enter a depression and are stolen from by gypsies and jews?! Also, the Russians were just as brutal if not worse. They ran the gulags! They murdered men, women, and children who opposed communism. Stalin's regime killed 65MILLION people in it's lifetime. Hitler killed 21MILLION. Take your pick, you politically correct WUSS!"

Anonymous on Nazi Germany: A Pictorial History

"ever heard of the saying two wrongs don't make a right. yes they lost ww1, but they started it so they got their just deserts. and hitler was pure evil,theres no doubt he was a great leader and orator that took advantage of a country in despair. he stood by people that were simular to him and used them to 'persuade' others in high places to flock to his banner. once in power it was easy to unite a nation with his speaches that germeny could rule the world at ANY cost, the hatetred between germany and russia was legendry with both country's sinking to new levels of for russia killing millions of their own under stalin, yes, that was an atocity in itself but it was an internal matter in russia. nothing to do with the west. germany treated the russians as less than human in fact, less than the jews and the feelings were neutral. the battle of stalingrad were tesamony to that. so picking someone to like because they killed 21m instead of 65m is just sick and shows what sort of person you really are. i will say though that although these pictures are interesting, dont belive everything that they show. the picture at the top seems to show two peasants being shot, both are women so we asume that they are inocents. not so, women fought along side their men with amazing efect. rusian women were excellent marksmen and made effective snipers and machine gunners. not behind them a machingun nest. its more likely that the machingun nest was overun and they are being shot for shooting german soldiers. that being said, it saddens me to say that many of the pictures do depict atrocities that the devil himself would be ashamed of.having never been in a war, i can't imagine what humans would go through under such horrific conditions. knowing death was just around the corner probly turned the most mild mannered men and women into monsters. im not going to justify there actions or condone them but to understand what they went through. i hope for all our sakes we never have to go through anything like it again. but i think we will."
Anonymous on Nazi Germany: A Pictorial History


"The main thing is to make history, not to write it."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite."
--Winston Churchill


"In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers."
--August Bebel

"God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best."

Great Comments....

I think it's important to remember that the German army at this time was one of the most disciplined fighting forces in the world. It's the reason Hitler made them swear an oath on his rise to Fuhrer; he knew they wouldn't break it.

That unflinching devotion to service and country would be their undoing, eventually - there were many suicides in combat. German soldiers who just couldn't deal with the brutality anymore - and the crime. Even leadership attempted to murder Hitler several times.

The Nazis were Germans, but the Germans weren't Nazis. Not all German soldiers were so criminally cruel. Most criminal cruelty was perpetrated not by the German Army, but by the Nazis and their divisions (SS, Gestapo, etc)
(Brutality Of Germans In Russia)
-- By Anonymous

Quotes about War....

"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war."
---Otto von Bismarck


"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
--Hermann Goering


"To conquer the enemy without resorting to war is the most desirable. The highest form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by strategy."
--Tzu Sun

"All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world; So why do winds and waves clash so fiercely everywhere?"
--Emperor Hirohito