Battle of Stalingrad
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
The southern Russian city of Stalingrad was a major industrial city, producing tanks, among other equipment, for the Soviet war effort. In terms of location, the city sat on the flank of the route toward the oil fields in the Caucasus region, while it was also a major transportation center between northern Russia and the Caspian Sea. Finally, the mere fact that it bore the name of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin gave more the reason for Adolf Hitler to conquer the city for morale reasons.
In the summer of 1942, German, Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, and Croatian forces, organized as the German Army Group South (B), which contained the 6th Army under Colonel General Friedrich Paulus and the 4th Panzer Army under Hermann Hoth, marched toward Stalingrad. The initial attacks were very successful, thus Hitler transferred the 4th Panzer Army away from the Stalingrad offensive to join Army Group South (A), which was moving toward the Caucasus oil fields. This move, however, caused major traffic jams on the inadequate road systems of Russia, slowing the offensive plans upwards of a week. With this delay in mind, Hitler changed his mind and re-assigned the 4th Panzer Army back into Army Group South (B) for Stalingrad. By the end of Jul 1942, the Germans had forced their way across the Don River. At this point, the Germans began deploying Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, and Croatian forces on their northern flank, leaving the attack of Stalingrad to the German forces. The only exception was the Croatian 369th Reinforced Infantry Regiment, which fought alongside the German 100th Jaeger Division.
Stalin recognized the threat to Stalingrad and appointed Colonel General Andrey Yeryomenko on 1 Aug 1942 as the commanding officer of the Southeastern Front to plan the defense. Political commissar Nikita Khrushchev was assigned to assist Yeryomenko. Among the first orders Yeryomenko issued was to move the city's grain, cattle, and railroad cars east across the Volga River. Then, he organized the Soviet units immediately to the east of the Volga River into the 62nd Army, which was later placed in command of Lieutenant General Vasiliy Chuikov on 11 Sep 1942.
The first attacks on the city came in the form of aerial strikes conducted by the German Luftflotte 4 under the command of Colonel General Wolfram von Richthofen, targeting shipping on the Volga River and known defensive fortifications. Between 25 and 31 Jul, 32 Soviet ships were sunk on the river, and a further 9 were seriously damaged. As for the city, it received about 1,000 tons of bombs, which damaged about 80% of its structures. As the oil tanks exploded and their contents spilled, "[t]orrents of burning oil and petrol flowed into the Volga until the river itself was in flames.... Stalingrad became a gigantic pile of ruins and debris stretching along the banks of the Volga." On 23 Aug, a massive air bombardment caused a firestorm that killed thousands. The Soviet Air Force was generally ineffective in countering the aerial attacks. By 31 Aug, only 192 aircraft were operable, and only 57 of them were fighters. Despite German air superiority and the heavy bombardments, however, some of the factories continued their work, turning out tanks and war supplies until they could no longer do so, and at that time the workers were conscripted into the Soviet Army.
By the end of Aug, the German Army Group South (B) had reached the Volga River north of Stalingrad. By 1 Sep, the Soviet forces could only reinforce the city by crossing the river as the city was now surrounded on three sides. Meanwhile, river crossings continued to be subjected to German attacks, now both by air and by artillery pieces. To preserve the strength of the Soviet regulars, Chuikov deployed women and conscripted civilians as the first line of defense. A post-engagement report written by an officer of the German 16th Panzer Division noted that the fight to silent 37 anti-aircraft batteries (used in anti-tank roles) was difficult, and he was shocked to find out afterwards that they were crewed by women. In the morning of 5 Sep, the Soviet 24th Army and 66th Army launched a counter-offensive against the German XIV Panzer Corps, but it was driven back at the face of superior firepower, particularly from the air, which destroyed 30 out of the 120 tanks that the Soviet forces lost in the attack. On 18 Sep, the Soviet 1st Guards Army and the 24th Army launched an offensive against VIII. Armeekorps at Kotluban near Stalingrad. Again, German Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers played an important role in repulsing the attack, destroying 41 out of the 106 Soviet tanks destroyed in the morning; Bf 109 fighters also shot down 77 Soviet fighters during the engagement. By the end of Sep, Chuikov had realized that he could not sustain a battle of attrition, thus he decided to dig in to the cityscape, thus minimizing the German advantage of the control of air. Additionally, he also developed the "hugging" tactic which kept his front lines very close to the German lines; this also deprived the Germans of the ability to use dive bombers to support the ground troops due to the risk of hitting German troops.
Back on 28 Jul 1942, Stalin had issued the Order Number 227, disallowing defending Soviet troops to take even a step back. Khrushchev and other political commissars dispatched to Stalingrad were those who policed this order. All who withdrew from the front lines were considered deserters and cowards, and they were brought before a military tribunal, which usually delivered death sentences or transferred the accused to penal battalions. There were also incidences where deserters were shot on the spot. Even as the battle fought on and more and more of the city slowly turned into rubble, Stalin continued to also forbid the civilians from evacuating; instead, they were ordered to join the fight or to help construct defensive structures. Any civilian discovered to be evacuating the city in secret, like their military counterparts, were also in violation of Order Number 227.
The battle for Stalingrad turned into bitter street fighting by this time. Every building was turned into Soviet fortresses, and even the sewer tunnels became battlegrounds. The railroad station became the scene of ferocious combat; on a particularly violent day, the marshalling yards exchanged hands 14 times within six hours, with the Germans finally capturing it only because the Soviet unit deployed there had been completely wiped out. At an apartment building at the edge of a square in the city center, Yakov Pavlov's platoon defended against waves after waves of German attacks. The German efforts to capture this apartment building was so costly that the Germans marked the building as a fortress on their field maps, while the Soviets nicknamed it "Pavlov's House". At his command bunker, Chuikov said that "Stalingrad could be seized by the enemy on one condition only if every one of the defending soldiers were killed."
While the German Luftwaffe controlled the air during the day, Soviet air force sneaked small scale bombing raids at night. These attacks were generally ineffectively and were regarded more so as a nuisance rather than a threat.
With the city gradually being reduced to rubble, snipers on both sides became more and more active as they began to gain more and more hiding spots. The most successful Soviet sniper was Vasily Zaytsev, who claimed somewhere between 200 to 400 kills; he became an effective centerpiece for Soviet propaganda aimed at raising morale.
On 5 Oct, 900 dive bombing sorties were flown against Soviet positions at the Dzerzhinskiy Tractor Factory, wiping out entire regiments of troops entrenched there. On 14 Oct, 2,000 sorties were flown, dropping 600 tons of bombs against various Soviet positions. By this time, the Soviet forces in Stalingrad were forced into a 910-meter strip of land on the bank of the Volga River, running out of supplies due to the German control of the air over the river. Also on 14 Oct, a renewed German attack against the Soviet forces, pushing for the following 10 days, but they failed to eliminate final Soviet foothold on the west bank of the Volga River. On 8 Nov, the Luftwaffe at Stalingrad took a heavy blow not from the Soviets but rather from Hitler, who had transferred entire units of Luftflotte 4 to southern Europe in response to the Allied landings in North Africa. The Soviet Air Force suddenly found an opportunity to rival the German air forces in the region, right at the time when Moscow was planning on launching a major counter-offensive to take advantage of the oncoming winter and its effects on German tanks.
On 19 Nov 1942, the Soviet offensive, Operation Uranus, was launched, oversaw by Marshal Georgi Zhukov and tactically led by General Nikolai Vatutin. The Soviet 1st Guards Army, the 5th Tank Army, and the 21st Army shattered the northern flank, manned by the Romanian 3rd Army, on the first day. Silesian soldier of the German Sixth Army Joachim Wieder recalled the fighting:
On 20 Nov, two additional Soviet armies joined in on the attack. By 21 Nov, the third day of the offensive, the Soviets had already surrounded Stalingrad along with 290,000 Axis troops inside. Hitler's advisors immediately suggested the troops trapped within to break out and form a new line at the western bank of the Don River, but Hitler refused, while chief of the Luftwaffe Hermann Göring promised that his aircraft would be able to deliver all the supplies the 270,000 to 300,000 men needed to continue the fighting. Göring had failed to recognize that the German 6th Army in Stalingrad required 800 tons of supplies each day, and available aircraft in the area only had the capacity of 117.5 tons. This deficiency, coupled with bad weather, and the increasing Soviet Air Force threat, meant that only an average of 94 tons of supplies were actually delivered per day. On 23 Dec, the Soviet 24th Tank Corps under Major General Vasily Mikhaylovich Badanov captured the airfield at Tatsinskaya, forcing the German aircraft located there to relocate to Salsk, which was 200 miles from Stalingrad and made the resupply mission even more difficult. By mid-Jan 1943, Salsk was abandoned after a closer airfield at Zverevo near Shakhty was established, but Soviet forces repeatedly attacked this new location, disrupting flight schedules and damaging or even destroying aircraft. Between 24 Nov 1942 and 31 Jan 1943, the German Luftwaffe lost 296 Ju 52 aircraft, 169 He 111 aircraft, 42 Ju 86 aircraft, 9 Fw 200 aircraft, 5 He 177 aircraft, and 1 Ju 290 aircraft while attempting to supply the troops in Stalingrad. Trapped in Stalingrad, men of the German 6th Army began to suffer from the effects of starvation.
On 19 Dec, the Soviet troops declared victory in Stalingrad. This was rather premature, as heavy fighting would continue.
On 12 Dec, the German Army Group Don was formed under Erich von Manstein. When this new unit reached Stalingrad on 21 Dec, Manstein asked Paulus to break out, but Paulus refused, citing Hitler's prior orders for him to hold the city. At the end of Dec 1942, Paulus sent a message to Berlin detailing the dire situation, but Hitler did not change his mind.
As the weather became colder, the Volga River froze over, and the Soviets were now able to supply the small Soviet contingent in the city with trucks. On 16 Dec, the Soviet forces launched Operation Little Saturn in an attempt to cut off the entire German Army Group South by securing the Don River; the attempt was not successful, but it greatly disrupted German operations in the Caucasus region, for example forcing Army Group South (A) to pull back to within 250 kilometers from Stalingrad to consolidate German positions in the area. On 8 Jan 1943, Soviet Lieutenant General Konstantin Rokossovsky demanded Paulus to surrender, which was rejected. "Capitulation is impossible. The 6th Army will do its historic duty at Stalingrad until the last man", Hitler ordered. "Stand fast, not a step back". German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel agreed with Hitler's order, noting that a withdraw only by a few miles would result in a near complete loss of all heavy equipment, and without the heavy weapons the troops withdrawn would be vulnerable to the Soviet counterattack that would undoubtedly take place immediately afterwards.
On 10 Jan 1943, a Soviet offensive cut the German garrison in Stalingrad into two. A new phase of street fighting began, and it was now the Soviets who advanced steadily but were surprised by the ferocity of the defenders who had no choice but to fight until the end. On 16 Jan, Pitomnik Airfield was captured by the Soviets, followed by Gumrak Airfield on 23 Jan, and then the smaller Stalingradskaya Airfield on 24 Jan. This meant that German aircraft were no longer able to land in Stalingrad to deliver supplies, thus the only supplies coming in were limited to the small amounts that could be paradropped to German positions.
On 31 Jan, Hitler promoted Paulus to the rank of field marshal on the basis that no German field marshal had ever surrendered to the enemy in history. Despite Paulus' prior determination to obey Hitler's orders, he finally broke down on 2 Feb and surrendered. By this time, there were only 91,000 men left, meaning that about 200,000 were killed in action or simply died of starvation in the past two months. 3,000 of those who surrendered were Romanians; 22 officers with general ranks were among the prisoners of war. At his command post at a department store building, Paulus surrendered to General Mikhail Shumilov of the Soviet 64th Army. Fighting ceased about two days after. Hitler was furious, noting that Paulus "could have freed himself from all sorrow and ascended into eternity and national immortality, but he prefers to go to Moscow."
During this battle, the Axis forces suffered an estimated 850,000 casualties, half of which were German; some estimates ran much higher, with the greatest being the Soviet official report which noted that 1,500,000 Axis personnel were killed in this battle, though that number was generally regarded as a gross over-estimation. The Soviet Union suffered 1,129,619 military (which included 478,741 killed or missing) and about 40,000 civilian casualties. The 40,000 figure included only civilians within Stalingrad city; there were also significant civilian casualties in the suburbs that could not be determined.
The German government did not reveal this defeat until Jan 1943; it became the first time that Germany publicly acknowledged a military failure. Of the 91,000 captured, only about 5,000 were repatriated to Germany in 1955; most of the remaining, already weakened by the lack of food and medicine during the encirclement, failed to survive the harsh living conditions of prisoner of war camps and labor camps where they were sent to. Stalingrad itself was reduced to almost nothing after the fighting. As Wieder later remembered, "[f]or half a year destruction and death had celebrated orgies here and hardly left anything save the torn stumps of houses, naked rows of walls, chimneys sticking up from vast piles of rubble, gutted factories, formless hunks of asphalt."
Isabel Denny, The Fall of Hitler's Fortress City
Walter Görlitz, In the Service of the Reich
Battle of Stalingrad Interactive Map
Battle of Stalingrad Timeline
|5 Apr 1942||Adolf Hitler issued Führer Directive No. 41, calling for the invasion of the Caucasus region and Stalingrad, both in southern Russia.|
|16 Jul 1942||Soviet forces evacuated Boguchar in Voronezh Oblast and Milerovo in Rostov Oblast in southern Russia as German troops advanced toward Stalingrad.|
|19 Jul 1942||The Soviet 66th Naval Rifle Brigade arrived at Stalingrad, Russia and was assigned to the Soviet 64th Army.|
|22 Jul 1942||German 6th Army reached the great bend in the Don River near Stalingrad, Russia.|
|26 Jul 1942||German 6th Army broke through the lines held by Soviet 62nd Army and 64th Army west of Stalingrad, Russia.|
|30 Jul 1942||German Armeegruppe B attacked the Soviet bridgehead at Kalach-na-Donu in southern Russia, west of Stalingrad.|
|31 Jul 1942||Adolf Hitler reversed his order of 23 Jul 1942 which detached the 4th Panzer Army from the assault on Stalingrad, Russia; the 4th Panzer Army began moving north toward Stalingrad, which caused some logistical issues as other German units moved south along the same roads in the invasion of the Caucasus region.|
|1 Aug 1942||Marshal Andrey Yeryomenko was appointed the commanding officer of the Soviet Southeastern Front, charged with planning the defense of Stalingrad in southern Russia. Meanwhile, German 4th Panzer Army attacked Kotelnikovo located 100 miles southwest of Stalingrad, surprising Soviet defenders.|
|2 Aug 1942||German 4th Panzer Army captured Kotelnikovo, Russia.|
|4 Aug 1942||Elements of German 4.Panzerarmee crossed the Aksay River en route to Stalingrad, Russia.|
|7 Aug 1942||Elements of German 6.Armee crossed the Don River near Kalach-na-Donu, southern Russia, west of Stalingrad.|
|9 Aug 1942||German 4.Panzerarmee reached the eastern shore of the Don River bend west of Stalingrad, Russia, threatening to envelope Soviet 62nd Army and 64th Army on the western shore.|
|10 Aug 1942||Troops of the German 6.Armee crossed the Don River in southern Russia, reaching the suburbs of Stalingrad.|
|11 Aug 1942||German 6th Army captured Kalach in southern Russia and linked up with German 4th Panzer Army.|
|14 Aug 1942||Troops of German 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army set fire to wooded areas west of the Don River in southern Russia in an attempt to drive out the remnants of the surrounded Soviet 62nd Army.|
|15 Aug 1942||Troops of German 6th Army attacked the remnants of Soviet 4th Tank Army on the west bank of the Don River bend at 0430 hours.|
|16 Aug 1942||German Luftwaffe conducted its first major bombing raid on Stalingrad, Russia.|
|20 Aug 1942||The German 6.Armee began to attack Stalingrad, Russia, crossing the Don River by inflatable boats.|
|22 Aug 1942||German 16th Panzer Division began to cross the Don River toward Stalingrad, Russia.|
|23 Aug 1942||The attack on Stalingrad in southern Russia opened with massive air raid lasting 48 hours involving more than 4,000 sorties while German ground units continued to reach the Volga River north and south of the city. At Chebotarevskiy 115 miles to the northeast, 700 Italian horse-mounted cavalry troops overran a Soviet artillery position by surprise, capturing 500 troops, 4 guns, 10 mortars, and 50 machine guns.|
|24 Aug 1942||Marshal Georgy Zhukov was sent to Stalingrad, Russia to take over the defense.|
|25 Aug 1942||Joseph Stalin declared Stalingrad, Russia to be in a state of siege, but ordered all heavy factories to remain in position to supply combat vehicles directly to front line units. Meanwhile, German 6th Army continued the attempt to break into the city from the north, but making little advance.|
|27 Aug 1942||German 16th Panzer Division, out of fuel to move further, dug in north of Stalingrad, Russia to wait for the German 6th Army to catch up to reinforce its position. 16 miles south of Stalingrad, German 4th Panzer Division made slow progress due to heavy resistance near Lake Sarpa.|
|29 Aug 1942||German 4th Panzer Army broke through Soviet lines 15 miles south of Stalingrad, Russia.|
|31 Aug 1942||Tanks of the German 4th Panzer Army reached the Stalingrad-Morozovsk railway on the outskirts of Stalingrad, Russia.|
|1 Sep 1942||Soviet General Andrey Yeremenko pulled Soviet 62nd Army and 64th Army back near Stalingrad, Russia to avoid encirclement.|
|3 Sep 1942||The German 6.Armee and 4.Panzerarmee finally linked up near Stalingrad in southern Russia, but were rebuffed in their attempts to enter the city.|
|5 Sep 1942||Soviet 24th Army and 66th Army organized a counter attack against German XIV Panzer Corps at Stalingrad, Russia. Launched in the morning, it was called off around noon time; 30 of the 120 tanks committed to this attack were destroyed, nearly all of which to German Luftwaffe aircraft.|
|7 Sep 1942||The German 6.Armee units began advancing through Stalingrad, Russia to the Volga shores.|
|10 Sep 1942||German 29th Motorized Infantry Division cut off Soviet 64th Army south of Stalingrad, Russia.|
|11 Sep 1942||Lieutenant General Vasiliy Chuikov took command of the newly formed Soviet 62nd Army located on the east bank of the Volga River at Stalingrad in southern Russia.|
|12 Sep 1942||Soviet 62nd Army at Stalingrad, Russia had been reduced to 90 tanks, 700 mortars and 20,000 men.|
|13 Sep 1942||Soviet 13th Guards Rifle Division engaged in heavy fighting at Mamayev Kurgan and Railway Station No. 1 at Stalingrad, Russia; it would lose a third of its strength in the fighting.|
|14 Sep 1942||Soviet 62nd Army launched a counterattack in Stalingrad, Russia at dawn, but it would ultimately be turned back by German troops, with the Soviets hemming themselves into a narrow strip along the Volga River. From the other side of the river, Soviet 13th Guards Rifle Division crossed on barges amidst aerial and artillery bombardment to prevent German 71st Division and 76th Division from penetrating Soviet 62nd Army lines and reaching the Volga River.|
|15 Sep 1942||German infantry made repeated assaults at the Mamayev Kurgan hill in Stalingrad, Russia without success; heavy fighting caused heavy casualties on both sides. Elsewhere in the city, German infantry advanced down the Tsaritsa River gorge toward the Volga River.|
|16 Sep 1942||The Soviet NKVD rifle battalion stationed on Mamayev Kurgan hill in Stalingrad, Russia continued to fight off German attempts to take this high point.|
|17 Sep 1942||In Stalingrad, Russia, German and Soviet troops engaged in heavy fighting at the Mamayev Kurgan hill, the Central Station, the grain elevator, and the apartment building soon to be named Pavlov's House. Also in the city, German troops advanced along the Tsaritsa River toward the banks of the Volga River where Soviet reinforcements were arriving from the other side.|
|18 Sep 1942||Soviet 1st Guards Army and 24th Army attacked German VIII Army Corps at Kotluban 40 kilometers north of Stalingrad, Russia; German Stuka dive bombers hampered the attack by destroying 41 of the 106 Soviet tanks committed, while escorting Bf 109 fighters destroyed 77 Soviet aircraft in the immediate area. In the city, heavy house-to-house fighting continued.|
|19 Sep 1942||Soviet 24th Army, 66th Army, and 1st Guards Army attempted another counterattack north of Stalingrad, Russia near Kotluban, but it was repulsed by German XIV Panzer Corps.|
|20 Sep 1942||In Stalingrad, Russia, Soviet and German troops engaged in heavy fighting at the Mamayev Kurgan hill, in the Central Station, and the grain elevator.|
|22 Sep 1942||The Soviet 62nd Army was split in half by the German advance down the Taritsa River gorge in Stalingrad in southern Russia, and the German troops now held nearly the entire southern half of the city.|
|23 Sep 1942||Soviet 284th Rifle Division arrived in Stalingrad, Russia and was ferried across the Volga River to join the front lines as German troops attacked the landing site.|
|24 Sep 1942||German 94th Infantry Division and 24th Panzer Division effectively wiped out all Soviet units in the southern pocket in Stalingrad, Russia.|
|26 Sep 1942||The German troops begin another "final" attack in Stalingrad, Russia.|
|27 Sep 1942||German Luftwaffe unit III./KG 4 (flying He 111 bombers) flew its last bombing sortie over Stalingrad, Russia. The unit would soon be transported out of its base in Morozovsk, Russia for Germany to undergo glider towing training.|
|28 Sep 1942||In Stalingrad, Russia, Sergeant Jacob Pavlov and three others assaulted the much shelled apartment block facing Solechnaya street, expelling the incumbent Germans with hand-grenades. In the cellar they found several badly wounded Soviet soldiers still holding out. "Pavlov's House" would become a boundary fortification, and a symbol of resistance. The handful of men defended the outpost for 58 days, against infantry, artillery and tank assaults.|
|3 Oct 1942||Heavy losses were incurred on both sides as the German 6.Armee pushed the Soviet 62nd Army back to the Volga River at Stalingrad, Russia.|
|4 Oct 1942||German XIV Panzer Korps attacked the Stalingrad Tractor Factory in Stalingrad, Russia.|
|14 Oct 1942||The German assault on the Stalingrad Tractor Factory in Stalingrad, Russia was aided by more than 2,000 sorties by aircraft of Luftflotte 4.|
|15 Oct 1942||German Luftwaffe unit I./KG 100 (flying He 111 bombers) briefly returned to Stalino (now Donetsk), Ukraine to conduct three bombing raids on Stalingrad, Russia.|
|15 Oct 1942||German Stuka dive bombers of Luftflotte 4 flew 900 individual sorties against Soviet positions at the Stalingrad Tractor Factory in Stalingrad, Russia, wiping out several Soviet regiments.|
|16 Oct 1942||The entire staff of the Soviet 339th Infantry Regiment was wiped out by German air attacks at Stalingrad, Russia.|
|22 Oct 1942||Most of the Red October and Barricade factories in northern Stalingrad, Russia were taken by German troops.|
|25 Oct 1942||Friedrich Paulus reported to Adolf Hitler that Stalingrad, Russia would be taken by 10 Nov 1942.|
|26 Oct 1942||In light of the positive report from Friedrich Paulus from Stalingrad, Russia, Adolf Hitler, from his Wehrwolf headquarters near of Vinnytsia in Ukraine, ordered some of the German units in that region to prepare to move north once Stalingrad was conquered.|
|31 Oct 1942||As Adolf Hitler was confident that Stalingrad, Russia would soon be under German control, he departed the Wehrwolf headquarters near of Vinnytsia, Ukraine and moved to the Wolfsschanze headquarters in Rastenburg, Germany (now Ketrzyn, Poland).|
|8 Nov 1942||Many units of the German Luftflotte 4 were transferred from Stalingrad, Russia to North Africa.|
|11 Nov 1942||German 6.Armee succeeded in reaching the Volga River in Stalingrad, Russia, with a 600-yard frontage near the Red October steel factory. In Germany, Hitler announced during Beer Hall Putsch celebration that Stalingrad, Russia was almost in German hands, but that he did not want to keep the city just because of its name.|
|19 Nov 1942||Having fought the Germans to a standstill, the Soviets launched a surprise counter-attack north and south of Stalingrad, Russia designed to encircle Friedrich Paulus's German 6th Army bogged down in the city.|
|20 Nov 1942||One day after the first Soviet offensive was launched at Stalingrad, Russia, a second one was launched south of the city against positions held by Romanian 4th Army Corps.|
|20 Nov 1942||Six He 111 bombers of German Luftwaffe group KG 55 flew an armed reconnaissance mission from their base at Morozovskaya, Russia over Stalingrad, Russia; two aircraft failed to return.|
|22 Nov 1942||The encirclement of the German 6th Army around Stalingrad, Russia was completed when Soviet 4th Mechanized Corps and 4th Tank Corps met at Kalach-na-Donu after smashing through positions held by Romanian troops.|
|25 Nov 1942||He 111 aircraft from Tatsinskaya Airfield and Morozovskaya Airfield in Rostov Oblast, Russia flew 75 tons of supplies, mostly fuel, into Stalingrad, Russia.|
|26 Nov 1942||Low cloud ceiling of 200 meters and periodic snow showers hindered German ability to supply troops in Stalingrad, Russia on this day.|
|27 Nov 1942||Commanded by General Erich von Manstein, the German Armeegruppe Don was formed in southern Russia in order to relieve the trapped German 6th Army at Stalingrad, Russia.|
|30 Nov 1942||German Luftwaffe VIII. Fliegerkorps was relieved of all its combat duties. Instead, its aircraft stationed across Rostov Oblast, Russia were ordered to focus on flying supplies into Stalingrad, Russia.|
|3 Dec 1942||In southern Russia, German Armeegruppe Don received several divisions from Western Europe in preparation for the relief operation against Stalingrad, Russia, Operation Winter Tempest.|
|5 Dec 1942||Despite heavy fog, 17 He 111 and about 50 Ju 52/3m aircraft were able to fly 150 tons of supplies into Stalingrad, Russia.|
|12 Dec 1942||Operation Winter Tempest was launched towards Stalingrad, Russia with German 3 Panzer Divisions and 10 other divisions.|
|19 Dec 1942||Erich von Manstein's units reached a point 30 miles south of Stalingrad, Russia, which would be the extent of their advance.|
|21 Dec 1942||Kurt Zeitzler asked Adolf Hitler for permission for Friedrich Paulus' German 6.Armee, encircled within Stalingrad, Russia, to break out to meet Erich von Manstein's relief efforts from the outside. Hitler rejected it, noting that German troops were to hold Stalingrad.|
|22 Dec 1942||Kurt Zeitzler once again asked Adolf Hitler to allow the German 6.Armee to break out from Stalingrad, Russia to avoid the remnants of the army from being totally wiped out. Hitler again refused.|
|23 Dec 1942||Manstein's troops began to withdraw to Kotelnikovo, Russia where they started their offensive.|
|24 Dec 1942||Soviet tanks broke German defensive lines at Tatsinskaya Airfield in Rostov Oblast, southern Russia, an important airfield flying supplies into Stalingrad, Russia; 124 Ju 52/3m aircraft were able to take into the air to escape, but 46 other aircraft were either damaged, destroyed, or abandoned as the Soviets captured Tatsinskaya. Elsewhere in Rostov Oblast, a similar attack was conducted on Morozovsk Airfield, but the Germans were able to repulse that attack.|
|24 Dec 1942||Soviet troops launched an offensive against the German Armeegruppe Don near Stalingrad, Russia, piercing Romanian 4th Army's lines.|
|25 Dec 1942||With the slaughter of over 12,000 horses, the Germans in Stalingrad, Russia received their last meat rations.|
|27 Dec 1942||Hitler authorized the German Armeegruppe A and Armeegruppe Don to withdraw 150 miles to a new defensive line in southern Russia.|
|2 Jan 1943||He 111 aircraft stationed at Morozovskaya Airfield, Rostov Oblast, Russia were evacuated. Since the aircraft could not take all the equipment and supplies with them, commanding officer of KG 55 Oberstleutnant Ernst Kühl remained behind with a small staff in the hopes that the ground troops would be able to blunt the Soviet offensive so that the aircraft could return.|
|4 Jan 1943||Soviet troops captured Morozovskaya Airfield, Rostov Oblast, Russia. Commanding officer of KG 55 Oberstleutnant Ernst Kühl and his small staff destroyed various equipment and supply dumps before evacuating.|
|8 Jan 1943||General Rokossovsky issued a surrender ultimatum to German 6th Army, which guaranteed their lives and safety until their return to Germany after the war. Paulus refused the ultimatum.|
|10 Jan 1943||Another Soviet offensive, Operation Ring, began at Stalingrad, Russia.|
|16 Jan 1943||Soviet troops captured Pitomnik Airfield west of Stalingrad, Russia, denying the Germans the ability to fly in supplies and fly out wounded men.|
|18 Jan 1943||Late in the day, three He 111 transport aircraft of German Luftwaffe unit III./KG 55 attempted to land at the small Gumrak Airfield at Stalingrad, Russia. The first landed but would not be able to takeoff again, the second made ten failed attempts at lining up with the wreck-strewn short runway but ultimately pushed its cargo of 20 sacks of bread out of the bomb bay doors without landing, and the third followed suit.|
|22 Jan 1943||German 6th Army engineers reported that the small Stalingradskaya Airfield close to the center of Stalingrad, Russia was ready to receive transport aircraft. Several He 111 aircraft arrived later on the same day with supplies, some of which would be fatally damaged when their landing gears became caught in bomb craters on the runway.|
|23 Jan 1943||The German-controlled Gumrak Airfield on the western side of Stalingrad, Russia was taken by Soviet troops.|
|24 Jan 1943||The Soviets once again demanded surrender from the encircled German forces in Stalingrad, Russia. Responding to Friedrich Paulus' message requesting permission to surrender as his men were now nearly out of ammunition and medical supplies, Adolf Hitler told Paulus to fight to the last man even if defeat was imminent. By the end of this day, the German forces in Stalingrad would be divided in two pockets and would have lost the use of the final airstrip available to them, Stalingradsaya Airfield.|
|25 Jan 1943||The remnants of the German 6.Armee were split in two pockets, north and south, in Stalingrad, Russia.|
|28 Jan 1943||As the German forces in Stalingrad, Russia were now divided into three pockets by Soviet attacks, Hermann Göring messaged Friedrich Paulus, noting that Paulus' stubborn defense, even if it led to self sacrifice, would go down in German history as one of the most heroic tales.|
|30 Jan 1943||In Germany, Hermann Göring publicly noted that the defense and sacrifice at Stalingrad, Russia would go down in history as a heroic tale.|
|30 Jan 1943||Soviet troops reached Red Square in central Stalingrad, Russia.|
|31 Jan 1943||Out of food and ammunition, the southern half of the German 6.Armee in Stalingrad, Russia surrendered; the final radio message coming out of this pocket was made at 1945 hours, which closed with the Morse abbreviation "CL", short for "Clear (I am closing my station)". Shortly after, 110 German transport aircraft take off for the northern pocket with supplies; more than 90 of the aircraft found the illuminated triangular drop zone and released their loads.|
|1 Feb 1943||Trapped in the ruins of a department store in Stalingrad, Russia, Friedrich Paulus surrendered the southern pocket along with 14 of his generals; Paulus became the first German field marshal to surrender to an enemy force. Fighting continued in the northern pocket, however, and 85 of the 108 transport aircraft dispatched to airdrop supplies to the northern pocket were able to do so.|
|2 Feb 1943||The last of the German Sixth Army surrendered in Stalingrad, Russia. On the same day, a German reconnaissance aircraft was dispatched to fly over Stalingrad, confirming that all fighting had ceased.|
|3 Feb 1943||12 He 111 aircraft, with supplies on board, flew over the northern pocket of Stalingrad, Russia before dawn. Of the 11 aircraft that reached the intended drop zone, only 3 dropped some of their cargo, as they found no German activity.|
|3 Feb 1943||During the day, the German OKW issued an announcement to inform the German public of the defeat at Stalingrad, Russia. The message, read over the radio, was preceded by a solemn drum roll and was followed by the 2nd movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's 5th symphony.|
|4 Feb 1943||In Germany, three days of national mourning began over the disaster at Stalingrad, Russia. All theatres, cinemas and night clubs were closed.|
|26 Mar 1943||Adolf Hitler informed Benito Mussolini that the Battle of Stalingrad had weakened the Soviet Union so much that the city would surely fall and the war would be won.|
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