PzKpfw IV in SSSR

Eve of battle

The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the most important events in the second World War II. We can say that it is a "turning point on the Eastern Front", since the outbreak of the battle the German army advanced into the heart of the Soviet Union, after this battle, but "card turned" and gave the German troops to retreat before Soviet units. In the spring of 1943, although attempts to turn back the development on the Eastern Front so-called "von Manstein spring counteroffensive," but it can be noted that this offensive, although from the beginning poured into the veins of the German troops a little hope, had failed.

Battle of Stalingrad began on the 4th September 1942 and lasted until the beginning of February 1943, 5 months. In the following lines I tried to explain the causes, consequences and the importance of one of the largest and most important battles of the second World War II.


Opening battle

The actual beginning of the battle dates back to the 3rd September 1942, when the customs departments of German XIV. Tank Corps fought to a distance of eight kilometers from the center of Stalingrad. A day later, their Soviet defense stopped the attack. Against the Germans was the Stalingrad Front, formed from the remnants of the retreating troops, as well as the 62nd, 63 and 64 Army, taken from backups, and 21 and 57th Army coming from the Southwest Front. Germany 4 volumes Panzer Army, meanwhile, managed to penetrate to the southwest suburbs, but there encountered Soviet artillery emplacements and tank formations.

In the following weeks, the battle of Stalingrad turned into a bitter fight for each block of houses, each intersection. 14th September German troops penetrated along the Volga through the main station complex toward the north. By mid-September, the Germans fell into the hands of the whole southern part of town. The scene of heavy fighting between German and Soviet troops then became the northern district of Stalingrad. Red Army pushed to the Volga, to use all possibilities of the fight in the city: the streets and barricades were built residential houses have been turned into strength.

Although German troops to be fast, ideally, the city and its key components such as strategically important objects (stations, factories ...), met the German army group in Stalingrad with a relatively stiff resistance. Despite these facts, the Germans succeeded at once brought under control about 9/10 the city, the city they could not occupy. From November 1942 to February 1943, German troops attempted initially successfully resisted Soviet forces that attempted to defend the city and to push the enemy back behind its borders to the west, but to defend Stalingrad, and occupied part of the mallow attack for the remainder of the town the Germans had failed to.

22nd around November, the German 6th Army closed ring encircling Soviet troops, better known under his name more often reported "Stalingrad cauldron". 6 when the army commanded by General Friedrich Paulus. After completion of the Soviet encirclement operations in the Stalingrad cauldron find themselves German 6th Army and IV. German 4th Army Corps Panzer Army and the Romanian 20th Infantry and 1 Cavalry Division. The numerical strength of troops on both sides there were only rumors. While the Soviet side felt that she managed to encircle 80 000 men, judging the Wehrmacht High Command that it is about 400 000 soldiers. Commander of the 6th Army Major General Paulus estimated the strength of his troops to about 200,000 valiant men. The boiler with an area of ​​1500 km2, in fact, 22nd November there were about 284,000 men, of which 9,500 Romanians and 20,300 Soviet prisoners of war.


The critical situation

The encirclement of German 6th Army, 4th residue Panzer Army and Romanian troops were due to the Soviet counteroffensive and many other factors, such as the weather deteriorated and the temperature drops down to -26 ° C, which negatively affected the combat readiness of German and Romanian soldiers. After the siege boiler Paulsově Hitler ordered the army to take a position round defense. That same evening, commander of the 6th Army Major General Paulus sent to Berlin radiographs request for total freedom of action and permission to attempt a breakthrough of Stalingrad boiler. This request was immediately rejected by Hitler. In reply from Berlin also said that the sixth Army has to wait for rescue from outside attack. 6th Army had at that moment stock still for about 6 days of combat.

On the night of 23 to 24 November, the Army Chief of Staff Kurt Zeitzler vainly tried to get Hitler's agreement with the clearing Stalingrad. In the early hours of 24th November Reich Marshal and commander of the Luftwaffe ensure that the Air Force will be able to besieged troops at Stalingrad to supply the most urgent things like food, medicines and many other important things. A day later 25th November started the first machines of the Junkers Ju 52 years of supply. Volumes 6th army daily consumed about 600 tons of ammunition, fuel, food and feed 50,000 horses. Although the first two days of supplies were all released Ju 52 transport aircraft that could miss the supreme command, troops were trapped in the boiler only delivered about 65 tons of ammunition and fuel.


German surrender

The situation for the German troops encircled the boiler looked really bad. Attempts to rescue the sixth Army also continued, but after a few days failed. 4th Panzer Army under the command of Gen. Hermann Hoth in conjunction with the 6th Panzer divisions pushed out of France, and 23 Panzer divisions within a few hours managed to push links 51st Army, defending the outer perimeter of the boiler, but the attack, which was to secure the left flank of rescue operations, after several days stranded in the area between the rivers Don and donec. Germans did not help or support to be provided troops encircled commander of Army Group Don Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, who ordered the XXXVIII. Army Corps under the command of Charles Hollidt initiated the procedure of the great bend of the Don.

On 16 Soviet troops in December launched a counteroffensive in the Southwest front 90 kilometers wide in the middle section of the front-Don. On 20 December, Soviet troops managed to achieve a breakthrough in the direction of the main shock, led to Rostov on Don. Due to the new situations Wehrmacht High Command was forced to withdraw forces fourth Panzer Army, which is far closer to a distance of 48 km from Paulusových encircled troops, to the northwest and face the imminent cut off German supply and communications retreating Army Group Don and Army Group A. In order to prevent a catastrophe that could easily develop into a "second Stalingrad "High Command issued the 28th of ground troops December orders to start the retreat from the Caucasus.

25th January 1943, Soviet troops succeeded in following a major offensive in Stalingrad cauldron to separate into two parts. The day before the evening was to distance Hitler promoted Paulus to the rank of General Field Marshal, and because there has never in the history of the German army signed surrender of German Field Marshal. Always either died in battle or in a hopeless situation, he committed suicide. Hitler believed that happening this time and that does not sign the surrender of Paulus, who miscalculated. 31st January signed a General Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrender deed to end the current fighting in the southern part of Stalingrad boilers, but in the northern part of the battle until 2 February 1943. The Russian captivity then remove from about 100 000 German soldiers, of whom about 12 years later in 1955, returned to Germany about 5000 men. Rest of the men perished in the harsh conditions of the Russian gulags. Second February 1943 General Karl Strecker Corps signed the surrender of the northern part of Stalingrad boilers, which ended in the Battle of Stalingrad.


Conclusion

To defeat the German troops has helped to a large extent, adverse weather conditions which have prevailed in the winter. In particular, but the fact that the German forces failed to adapt to increasingly coming counterattacks of Soviet troops.

The German side of a losing battle resulted in a process of Soviet troops, who failed to stop or von Manstein spring counteroffensive. Stalingrad was a turning point on the Eastern Front, which started the German retreat and thus contribute to accelerate the end of the war, although he came in May 1945.


Autors: Ondřej Špur & Tomáš Paulík