Soviet victory: . Army Group B :. Army Group Don [Note 2]. Stalingrad Front :. Don Front [Note 3].
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Soviet victory: . Army Group B :. Army Group Don [Note 2]. Stalingrad Front :. Don Front [Note 3]. Southwestern Front [Note 4]. In the Battle of Stalingrad 23 August — 2 February ,     Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad now Volgograd in Southern Russia.
Marked by fierce close-quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids , it is one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with an estimated 2 million total casualties.
The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August , using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intense Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting, as both sides poured reinforcements into the city. By mid-November, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River.
On 19 November, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus , a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the 6th Army's flanks. Adolf Hitler ordered that the 6th Army make no attempt to break out; instead, attempts were made to supply it by air and to break the encirclement from the outside. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. At the beginning of February , the Axis forces in Stalingrad, having exhausted their ammunition and food, surrendered  : after five months, one week and three days of fighting.
By the spring of , despite the failure of Operation Barbarossa to decisively defeat the Soviet Union in a single campaign, the Wehrmacht had captured vast expanses of territory, including Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic republics. Elsewhere, the war had been progressing well: the U-boat offensive in the Atlantic had been very successful and Erwin Rommel had just captured Tobruk.
There were a number of salients , but these were not particularly threatening. With the initial operations being very successful, the Germans decided that their summer campaign in would be directed at the southern parts of the Soviet Union. The initial objectives in the region around Stalingrad were the destruction of the industrial capacity of the city and the deployment of forces to block the Volga River.
The river was a key route from the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to central Russia. Its capture would disrupt commercial river traffic. The Germans cut the pipeline from the oilfields when they captured Rostov on 23 July. The capture of Stalingrad would make the delivery of Lend Lease supplies via the Persian Corridor much more difficult.
On 23 July , Hitler personally rewrote the operational objectives for the campaign, greatly expanding them to include the occupation of the city of Stalingrad. Both sides began to attach propaganda value to the city, based on it bearing the name of the leader of the Soviet Union. Hitler proclaimed that after Stalingrad's capture, its male citizens were to be killed and all women and children were to be deported because its population was "thoroughly communistic" and "especially dangerous".
The Soviets realised that they were pressed for time and resources. They ordered that anyone strong enough to hold a rifle be sent to fight. If I do not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny then I must finish [ liquidieren ; "kill off", "liquidate"] this war. Army Group South was selected for a sprint forward through the southern Russian steppes into the Caucasus to capture the vital Soviet oil fields there. Poised in Eastern Ukraine , it was to spearhead the offensive.
Hitler intervened, however, ordering the Army Group to split in two. The start of Case Blue had been planned for late May However, a number of German and Romanian units that were to take part in Blau were besieging Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula.
Delays in ending the siege pushed back the start date for Blau several times, and the city did not fall until early July. Operation Fridericus I by the Germans against the "Isium bulge", pinched off the Soviet salient in the Second Battle of Kharkov , and resulted in the envelopment of a large Soviet force between 17 May and 29 May.
The German offensive started well. Soviet forces offered little resistance in the vast empty steppes and started streaming eastward. Several attempts to re-establish a defensive line failed when German units outflanked them. Two major pockets were formed and destroyed: the first, northeast of Kharkov, on 2 July, and a second, around Millerovo , Rostov Oblast , a week later. A massive traffic jam resulted when the 4th Panzer and the 1st Panzer both required the few roads in the area.
Both armies were stopped dead while they attempted to clear the resulting mess of thousands of vehicles. The delay was long, and it is thought that it cost the advance at least one week. With the advance now slowed, Hitler changed his mind and reassigned the 4th Panzer Army back to the attack on Stalingrad. The Germans began using the armies of their Italian , Hungarian and Romanian allies to guard their left northern flank.
Occasionally Italian actions were mentioned in official German communiques. On 25 July the Germans faced stiff resistance with a Soviet bridgehead west of Kalach. The 4th Panzer Army, ordered south on 13 July to block the Soviet retreat "weakened by the 17th Army and the 1st Panzer Army", had turned northwards to help take the city from the south.
To the south, Army Group A was pushing far into the Caucasus, but their advance slowed as supply lines grew overextended. The two German army groups were not positioned to support one another due to the great distances involved. Yeryomenko and Commissar Nikita Khrushchev were tasked with planning the defence of Stalingrad. These units became the newly formed 62nd Army, which Yeryomenko placed under the command of Lieutenant General Vasiliy Chuikov on 11 September When asked how he interpreted his task, he responded, "We will defend the city or die in the attempt.
Chuikov's generalship during the battle earned him one of his two Hero of the Soviet Union awards. During the defence of Stalingrad, the Red Army deployed five armies 28th , 51st , 57th , 62nd and 64th Armies in and around the city and an additional nine armies in the encirclement counter offensive.
David Glantz indicated  that four hard-fought battles — collectively known as the Kotluban Operations — north of Stalingrad, where the Soviets made their greatest stand, decided Germany's fate before the Nazis ever set foot in the city itself, and were a turning point in the war.
Beginning in late August, continuing in September and into October, the Soviets committed between two and four armies in hastily coordinated and poorly controlled attacks against the Germans' northern flank. The actions resulted in more than , Soviet Army casualties but did slow the German assault. On 23 August the 6th Army reached the outskirts of Stalingrad in pursuit of the 62nd and 64th Armies, which had fallen back into the city. Kleist later said after the war: .
The capture of Stalingrad was subsidiary to the main aim. It was only of importance as a convenient place, in the bottleneck between Don and the Volga, where we could block an attack on our flank by Russian forces coming from the east.
At the start, Stalingrad was no more than a name on the map to us. The Soviets had enough warning of the German advance to ship grain, cattle, and railway cars across the Volga and out of harm's way, but most civilian residents were not evacuated. This "harvest victory" left the city short of food even before the German attack began. Before the Heer reached the city itself, the Luftwaffe had rendered the River Volga, vital for bringing supplies into the city, unusable to Soviet shipping.
Between 25 and 31 July, 32 Soviet ships were sunk, with another nine crippled. The battle began with the heavy bombing of the city by Generaloberst Wolfram von Richthofen 's Luftflotte 4 , which in the summer and autumn of was the single most powerful air formation in the world.
Some 1, tons of bombs were dropped in 48 hours, more than in London at the height of the Blitz. The exact number of civilians killed during the course of the battle is unknown but was most likely very high. Around 40, civilians were moved to Germany as slave workers, some fled the city during battle and a small number were evacuated by the Soviets. In February only between 10, to 60, civilians were still alive in Stalingrad. Much of the city was quickly turned to rubble, although some factories continued production while workers joined in the fighting.
The Stalingrad Tractor Factory continued to turn out T tanks literally until German troops burst into the plant. The th Croatian Reinforced Infantry Regiment was the only non-German unit  selected by the Wehrmacht to enter Stalingrad city during assault operations. Stalin rushed all available troops to the east bank of the Volga, some from as far away as Siberia.
All the regular ferries were quickly destroyed by the Luftwaffe, which then targeted troop barges being towed slowly across the river by tugs. A massive German air raid on 23 August caused a firestorm , killing hundreds and turning Stalingrad into a vast landscape of rubble and burnt ruins. Ninety percent of the living space in the Voroshilovskiy area was destroyed. Between 23 and 26 August, Soviet reports indicate people were killed and another 1, wounded as a result of the bombing.
Vasily Chuikov. The VVS bases in the immediate area lost aircraft between 23 and 31 August, and despite meagre reinforcements of some aircraft in August, it was left with just serviceable aircraft, 57 of which were fighters.
The burden of the initial defence of the city fell on the th Anti-Aircraft Regiment ,  : a unit made up mainly of young female volunteers who had no training for engaging ground targets. Despite this, and with no support available from other units, the AA gunners stayed at their posts and took on the advancing panzers. The German 16th Panzer Division reportedly had to fight the th's gunners "shot for shot" until all 37 anti-aircraft guns were destroyed or overrun.
The 16th Panzer was shocked to find that, due to Soviet manpower shortages, it had been fighting female soldiers. The civilians were often sent into battle without rifles. They assembled tanks from leftover parts at the tractor factory.
These tanks, unpainted and lacking gun-sights, were driven directly from the factory floor to the front line. They could only be aimed at point-blank range through the bore of their gun barrels. Another advance to the river south of the city followed, while the Soviets abandoned their Rossoshka position for the inner defensive ring west of Stalingrad. The Luftwaffe helped repel the offensive by heavily attacking Soviet artillery positions and defensive lines. The Soviets were forced to withdraw at midday after only a few hours.
Of the tanks the Soviets had committed, 30 were lost to air attack. Soviet operations were constantly hampered by the Luftwaffe.
Fliegerkorps dispatched wave after wave of Stuka dive-bombers to prevent a breakthrough. The offensive was repelled.
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La Batalla por Stalingrado