SOME FACTS OF STALINGRAD
1. On each square kilometer of Stalingrad Tractor Factory's territory weredropped approx. 2000 bombs (not counting small-gauge artillery and mortars).
2. On each running kilometer of the rail track were about 16 bomb craters.
3. On each running kilometer of pipelines were 15 direct hits.
A little story from Russia
My name is Anna Streltasova. In 1942,during the war, I lived in Stalingrad. My mother, my little sister, my father and I lived in an apartment house. My father worked on the machines at the nearby tractor factory. I was just finished with my secondary schooling and I had begun my education at the medical university. Along with my medical education, I was also a member of a voluntary civilian medical unit.
Late in the morning of August 23rd, I had come home from medical school and my mother had asked me to go to the market to purchase a watermelon and bring it home for lunch. As I was returning from the market, I heard air-raid sirens. Because I was only seventeen years old and afraid of nothing, this did not alarm me and I just ignored them. I had heard many sirens before and nothing had ever happened. My only purpose was to bring the watermelon home for my mother and little sister to enjoy. Mother was waiting to cut the watermelon on her cutting board, and she did so with a big sharp knife. Oh, it looked so red and ripe and delicious.
Just as we were about to eat, a bomb crashed into our building. Broken glass flew everywhere. My little sister was hit by glass fragments and was bleeding. Mother grabbed a pink cloth and attempted to stop the bleeding. The cloth was covered with red blood and red chunks of watermelon. Mother immediately snatched up my little sister to take her to the hospital. The bombs were falling all over the neighbourhood and the houses were on fire. I wanted to accompany them, but had to stay to help with the wounded that were pouring out into the street. I struggled to help get the wounded down to the ferry to escape.
There was a crowd of people out in the street, both military and civilian, many wounded. And many children. It was impossible for me to return to my home. There was no turning back for me. I voluntarily joined the army to work in a field hospital where my training and education would help.
Five years later, in 1947, I returned home to Stalingrad. There was nothing left of my neighborhood. My street was gone, my home was gone and my mother and little sister had disappeared forever. My last hope was that I would be able to find my father. But, in fact, on August 24, 1942, the German soldiers were already approaching the tractor factory. My father took up a rifle and others grabbed machine guns and some took T-34 tanks directly from their work on the tank assembly line, they ran out of the plant to stop the German troops. There was no Russian army unit nearby, so these brave citizen soldiers held the Germans off for three to four days until the first Russian troops were able to relieve them. Unfortunately I must tell you, my father was killed during this battle. In two short days of my young life, I lost my home, family and everything I had. From that day onward, watermelon's rich red colour fills me with such sorrow. I have never been able to eat or buy a watermelon. Never.
THE IFS AND BUTS OF STALINGRAD.....
Few would disagree that the loss of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad represented the turning point of the Eastern front, indeed of WWII in Europe. Heroic as the efforts of the Luftwaffe's air and ground crews were, the defenders could never have been adequately supplied by airlift alone.
Could the relief attempt mounted by General Hoth's 4th Panzer Army ever have reached the cauldron across150km of wintry steppe?
Once the panzers had punched a corridor through, 800 lorries loaded with 3,000 tons of supplies were to restore 6th Army's fighting strength and evacuate the wounded; von Manstein intended that Paulus then initiate the breakout, spearheaded by his own remaining armour (some hundred-odd tanks).
By Christmas Eve, the relief attempt had stalled on the defences recently manned by the 2nd Guards Army on the banks of the *Myshkova river, less than fifty kilometres from the siege lines but still impossibly far for the defenders to have reached even had Paulus willed the abandonment of the city.
By then the tank strength of the LVII Panzerkorps had been worn down by twelve days of bitter fighting and the men of its constituent 6, 17 and 23 Panzer-Divisions physically exhausted by constant combat in snow and cold, without any shelter on the open steppe.
Finally, the gallant and self-sacrificial relief attempt was doomed - even as the fighting for Vyerkhnye-Kumskiy approached its climax - by the Russian 'Little Saturn' onslaught (16th December) against Armee-Abteilung Hollidt and the Italian 8th Army; as the latter collapsed and Russian tank brigades threatened to overrun the airfields supplying Stalingrad, the strongest formation, 6 Panzer-Division, was urgently required on the far side of the Don. On Christmas Eve, with tears in their eyes, the troops saluted their comrades in the cauldron- now doomed to death in combat or the slower agony of the camps, the fate most feared of all.
In August 1942 the Germans launched a direct attack against Stalingrad, committing up to 22 divisions with more than 700 planes, 500 tanks, 1,000 mortars, and 1,200 guns. Chuikov, in response, allegedly declared, "We shall hold the city or die here." Much of the fighting in the city and on its perimeters was at close quarters, with bayonets and hand grenades. About 300,000 Germans were killed or captured in the course of the campaign; Soviet casualties totaled more than 400,000. In November the Soviet forces began to counterattack and by the end of the year were on the offensive.
General Chuikov subsequently led his forces into the Donets Basin and then into the Crimea and north to Belorussia before spearheading the Soviet drive to Berlin. Chuikov personally accepted the German surrender of Berlin on May 1, 1945.
After the war he served with the Soviet occupation forces in Germany
(1945-53), commanding those forces from 1949. He headed the Kiev military district from 1953 to 1960 and thereafter held a variety of military assignments in Moscow. He was a candidate member of the Communist Party's Central Committee from 1952 to 1961 and a full member from 1961 until he
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