VITE History Channel. Part 10. WW2. Great Patriotic War in Russia. The Battle of Stalingrad
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Don, Volga, and Caucasus: Summer 1942
Although plans were made to attack Moscow again, on 28 June 1942, the offensive re-opened in a different direction. Army Group South took the initiative, anchoring the front with the Battle of Voronezh and then following the Don river southeastwards. The grand plan was to secure the Don and Volga first and then drive into the Caucasus towards the oil fields, but operational considerations and Hitler's vanity made him order both objectives to be attempted simultaneously. Rostov was recaptured on 24 July when the 1st Panzer Army joined in, and then that group drove south towards Maikop. As part of this, Operation Shamil was executed, a plan whereby a group of Brandenburger commandos dressed up as Soviet NKVD troops to destabilise Maikop's defences and allow the 1st Panzer Army to enter the oil town with little opposition.
Meanwhile, the 6th Army was driving towards Stalingrad, for a long period unsupported by 4th Panzer Army, which had been diverted to help 1st Panzer Army cross the Don. By the time the 4th Panzer Army had rejoined the Stalingrad offensive Soviet resistance (comprising the 62nd Army under Vasily Chuikov) had stiffened. A leap across the Don brought German troops to the Volga on 23 August but for the next three months the Wehrmacht would be fighting the Battle of Stalingrad street-by-street.
Towards the south, the 1st Panzer Army had reached the Caucasian foothills and the Malka River. At the end of August Romanian mountain troops joined the Caucasian spearhead, while the Romanian 3rd and 4th armies were redeployed from their successful task of clearing the Azov littoral. They took up position on either side of Stalingrad to free German troops for the main offensive. Mindful of the continuing antagonism between Axis allies Romania and Hungary over Transylvania, the Romanian army in the Don bend was separated from the Hungarian 2nd army by the Italian 8th Army. Thus, all of Hitler's allies were involved – including a Slovakian contingent with the 1st Panzer Army and a Croatian regiment attached to 6th Army.
The advance into the Caucasus bogged down, with the Germans unable to fight their way past Malgobek and to the main prize of Grozny. Instead, they switched the direction of their advance to approach it from the south, crossing the Malka at the end of October and entering North Ossetia. In the first week of November, on the outskirts of Ordzhonikidze, the 13th Panzer Division's spearhead was snipped off and the panzer troops had to fall back.
The offensive into Russia was over.
The Battle of Stalingrad: Winter 1942
The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which 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 was the largest (nearly 2.2 million personnel) and bloodiest (1.8–2 million killed, wounded or captured) battle in the history of warfare. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses.
The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble.
Barmaley Fountain in ruined Stalingrad
The fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting; both sides poured reinforcements into the city.
By mid-November 1942, 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 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German 6th Army's flanks. The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area.
Adolf Hitler ordered that the army stay in Stalingrad and make no attempt to break out; instead, attempts were made to supply the army by air and to break the encirclement from the outside. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food. The Germans rushed to transfer troops to the Soviet Union in a desperate attempt to relieve Stalingrad, but the offensive could not get going until 12 December, by which time the 6th Army in Stalingrad was starving and too weak to break out towards it. Operation Winter Storm, with three transferred panzer divisions, got going briskly from Kotelnikovo towards the Aksai river but became bogged down 65 km (40 mi) short of its goal. To divert the rescue attempt, the Red Army decided to smash the Italians and come down behind the relief attempt if they could; that operation starting on 16 December. What it did accomplish was to destroy many of the aircraft that had been transporting relief supplies to Stalingrad. The fairly limited scope of the Soviet offensive, although still eventually targeted on Rostov, also allowed Hitler time to see sense and pull Army Group A out of the Caucasus and back over the Don.
On 31 January 1943, the 90,000 survivors of the 300,000-man 6th Army surrendered.
Marshal of Third Reich Paulus (left) and his aides Col. Wilhelm Adam (right) and Lt.-Gen. Arthur Schmidt (middle), after their surrender in Stalingrad
By that time the Hungarian 2nd Army had also been wiped out. The battle lasted five months, one week and three days.
The Red Army advanced from the Don 500 km (310 mi) to the west of Stalingrad, marching through Kursk (retaken on 8 February 1943) and Kharkov (retaken 16 February 1943). In order to save the position in the south, the Germans decided to abandon the Rzhev salient in February, freeing enough troops to make a successful riposte in eastern Ukraine. Manstein's counteroffensive, strengthened by a specially trained SS Panzer Corps equipped with Tiger tanks, opened on 20 February 1943 and fought its way from Poltava back into Kharkov in the third week of March, when the spring thaw intervened. This left a glaring Soviet bulge (salient) in the front centered on Kursk.
To be continued...
Song about The Battle of Stalingrad:
The sound of the mortars
The music of death
We're playing the devil's symphony
Our violins are guns conducted from Hell
V means Victory. V means Vite too.
When war raged in fronts of Soviet Union rear worked to bring victory.
The Rear-front Memorial (Russian: Памятник «Тыл — фронту») is a bronze and granite monument located in the city of Magnitogorsk, Russia
The Motherland Calls (Russian: Родина-мать зовёт!, tr. Rodina-mat' zavyot!, lit. Homeland-Mother Is Calling!) is the compositional centre of the monument-ensemble "Heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad" on Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd, Russia
This two monuments are made to symbolize the sword being forged in Magnitogorsk, raised in The Motherland Calls in Volgograd (then Stalingrad)
All for Victory! All for Vite!!!