Battle of Stalingrad

Battle of Stalingrad was armed conflict by Soviet union  forces against the Germans,key dates were  on July 17, 1942, and continuing to Feb. 2, 1943, to defend the city of Stalingrad and surrendering   of German forces in the region between the Don and Volga rivers. The defense of stalingrad was the initial stage and then it was the counter offensive.

Defense of Stalingrad of 1942. The objective of the fascist German command for the summer of 1942 was to crush Soviet forces in the south, take the petroleum regions of the Caucasus and the rich agricultural regions of the Don and Kuban’, cut lines of communication connecting the center of the country with the Caucasus, and create conditions for a favorable conclusion of the war. Army groups A and B were assigned to carry out this mission.

As a result of Soviet military reverses in May and June 1942 in the Crimea, along the Voronezh axis, and in the Donbas, where the General Headquarters and the High Command of the Southwestern Strategic Axis did not have the necessary reserves, the enemy was able to take the strategic initiative. In late June fascist German forces began an offensive against the weakened forces of the Briansk Front, the newly reformed Voronezh Front, and the Southwestern and Southern fronts and broke through their defenses. By mid-July, they had thrown the Soviet forces back across the Don from Voronezh to Kletskaia and from Surovikino to Rostov. The fascist German command sent Army Group A (to which the Fourth Panzer Army from Army Group B had been added on July 13) to the Caucasian axis and the Sixth Army, part of Army Group B (commanded by Colonel General M. Weichs), against Stalingrad to secure the left wing of the assault group. The enemy was confident of capturing this important strategic point quickly and easily because only insignificant Soviet forces lay in the path of the advance.

In this situation the General Headquarters of the Supreme Command took urgent steps to organize a defense along the Stalingrad axis. On July 12, the headquarters of the new Stalingrad Front (commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. Ti-moshenko, replaced on July 23 by Lieutenant General V. N. Gordov, Military Council member N. S. Khrushchev, and chief of staff Lieutenant General P. I. Bodin) was formed on the basis of the headquarters of the Southwestern Front. The new front included the Sixty-second, Sixty-third, and Sixty-fourth armies as well as the Twenty-first Army and Eighth Air Army of the Southwestern Front, the First and Fourth tank armies, which were formed later, and certain units of the Twenty-eighth, Thirty-eighth, and Fifty-seventh armies. The Volga Military Flotilla was assigned to operational subordination. By July 17, the front assumed the defensive in a 530-km zone along the line Pavlovsk-na-Donu, left bank of the Don River, Serafimovich, Kletskaia, Surovikino, and Verkhniaia Kurmoiarskaia.

On the approaches to Stalingrad work was stepped up (it had begun as early as October 1941) to build defensive lines between the Volga and the Don. Responding to the appeal of party and soviet organizations thousands of residents took part in this work. The oblast and city party committees (A. S. Chuianov was first secretary of the oblast committee) did a great deal of work to form and train the home guard and worker self-defense detachments, reorganize production for the needs of the front, and evacuate children and state treasures from the city.

From July 17 to 22 forward detachments of the Sixty-second and Sixty-fourth armies fought stubborn battles against the enemy on the Chir and Tsimla rivers line and then withdrew to the main defense line. On July 22, the enemy had on the Stalingrad axis 18 divisions, with a total of 250,000 troops, approximately 740 tanks, 1,200 aircraft, and 7,500 guns and infantry mortars. Soviet forces had 16 divisions, with a total of 187,000 troops, 360 tanks, 337 aircraft, and 7,900 guns and infantry mortars. The ratio of forces in favor of the enemy was 1.2:1 in personnel, 1:1 in guns and infantry mortars, 2:1 in tanks, and 3.6:1 in aircraft.

On July 23, 1942, forces of the Sixth Army (commanded by Colonel General F. von Paulus) began the offensive with the objective of capturing Stalingrad and Astrakhan and consolidating their hold on the Volga. On July 26, large German tank and motorized units broke through the defense of the Sixty-second Army and reached the Kamenskii area. The Soviet command delivered a counterstrike with the forces of the First and Fourth tank armies, which had not been completely formed and had only 240 tanks and two rifle divisions. These forces were unable to stop the enemy, but they slowed the advance somewhat.

Heavy fighting also developed on the front of the Sixty-fourth Army, but there too the enemy was unable to break through to Stalingrad on the run. The increased resistance of the Soviet forces, who fought with exceptional heroism, forced the fascist German command to narrow the zone of advance of the Sixth Army by bringing the Eighth Italian Army (commanded by Colonel General I. Garibaldi) to the Don on the left and, on July 31, by taking the Fourth Panzer Army (commanded by Colonel General H. Hoth) from the Caucasian axis for the purpose of striking from the southwest to help the Sixth Army take Stalingrad.

On August 5, the main forces of the Fourth Panzer Army reached the Abganerovo and Plodovitoe area, where they were stopped by forces of the Sixty-fourth Army, which had been brought in from the Don. Because Soviet forces were spread over a front up to 800 km long and difficulties in control had arisen, General Headquarters of the Supreme Command, on August 5, took the Fifty-seventh, Fifty-first, and Sixty-fourth armies, the First Guards Army, and the Eighth Air Army from the Stalingrad Front to form the Southeastern Front (commanded by Colonel General A. I. Eremenko, Military Council member Brigade Commissar V. M. Laiok, chief of staff Major General G. F. Za-kharov). The Sixty-third, Twenty-first, and Sixty-second armies and the Fourth Tank Army, as well as the Sixteenth Air Army, which was being formed, were left on the Stalingrad Front. From August 9 to September 28, Colonel General Eremenko commanded both fronts.

From August 7 to 9 forces of the Sixth German Army pressed the forces of the Sixty-second Army back to the left bank of the Don; its four divisions were surrounded west of Kalach and carried on the fighting until August 14, when they broke through to join up with the main forces. The forces of the First Guards Army, coming into the battle, inflicted a strong counterstrike and stopped the enemy advance.

As a result of the fighting, which lasted almost a month, the enemy’s plan to take Stalingrad on the run was foiled by the stubborn defense of Soviet forces. General Headquarters gave special attention to reinforcing the fronts and armies of the Stalingrad axis with its own reserves. In view of the exceptional importance of the events unfolding at Stalingrad, the State Defense Committee again sent Colonel General A. M. Vasilevskii, chief of the General Staff, to assist the fronts and coordinate their operations and then, on August 29, sent Deputy Supreme Commander in Chief General of the Army G. K. Zhukov.

The fascist German command decided to take Stalingrad with simultaneous strikes by the Sixth Army and the Fourth Panzer Army on converging axes. With a 2.2:1 superiority in guns and infantry mortars, a 4:1 superiority in tanks, and a 2:1 superiority in aircraft, the enemy on August 15–17 renewed the offensive along the entire front of the external defensive perimeter to which Soviet forces had withdrawn.

After bitter fighting between August 17 and August 20, the enemy managed to force the Don in the Trekhostrovskaia, Vertiachii, Peskovatka sector. On August 23, the German XIV Tank Corps broke through in the Vertiachii area and, splitting the Stalingrad defense into two parts, reached the Volga in the Lato-shinka and Rynok area. The Sixty-second Army was cut off from the other armies of the Stalingrad Front and on August 29 was assigned to the Southeastern Front. Fascist German air forces subjected Stalingrad to barbaric bombardment. On August 24, part of the German XIV Tank Corps passed to the offensive in the direction of the tractor plant, but without success. Detachments of the home guard from the Stalingrad plants took part in this bitter fighting, and with the support of the Volga Military Flotilla they stopped the enemy. At the same time, the forces of the Stalingrad Front, which had withdrawn to the northwest, attacked the enemy from the north and compelled him to divert significant forces that had been intended for the capture of Stalingrad. The XIV Tank Corps found itself cut off from the rear areas and was supplied by air for several days. On the southern approaches to [Illegible], the forces of, the forces of the Southeastern Front were stubbornly repulsing attacks by the German Fourth Panzer Army. Only on August 29 was the enemy able to break through the front and reach the Gavrilovka area, southwest of Krasnoarmeisk. In early September forces of the Stalingrad Front—the First Guards Army and the Twenty-fourth and Sixty-sixth armies—passed over to the offensive twice; they did not meet with great success, but they drew off enemy forces and somewhat eased the position of the defenders of the city.

In this way, during the fighting between August 15–17 and September 12, Soviet forces had again thwarted an enemy plan and stopped the enemy in front of the city defensive perimeter.

From September 13 to 15, disregarding losses, the fascist German forces continued their offensive toward the Volga, delivering the main strike toward Mamaev Kurgan and the railroad terminal. By late September 14, the enemy had broken through to the terminal and reached the Volga in the Kuporosnoe area, at the southern outskirts of the city. The Sixty-second Army (commanded by Lieutenant General V. I. Chuikov as of Sept. 10, 1942) found itself cut off from the Sixty-fourth Army (commanded by Lieutenant General M. S. Shumilov). A. I. Rodim-tsev’s 13th Guards Rifle Division (transferred from the General Headquarters Reserve) was moved across the Volga from the left bank. Now, having entered Stalingrad, the division went directly onto the counterattack and on September 16 won back Mamaev Kurgan. The furious struggle for the railroad terminal lasted until September 27, during which time the terminal changed hands 13 times. The Stalingraders received substantial help in the form of air strikes by air forces under the command of Generals A. E. Golovanov and S. I. Rudenko and attacks on fascist German forces and artillery shelling from the north by the forces of the Stalingrad Front.

On September 28, the Stalingrad Front was renamed the Don Front (commanded by Lieutenant General K. K. Rokossovskii, Military Council member Corps Commissar A. S. Zheltov, chief of staff General M. S. Malinin) and the Southeastern Front was renamed the Stalingrad Front (commanded by Colonel General Eremenko). Fighting for the workers’ settlements of the Krasnyi Oktiabr’ and Barrikady plants began on September 27, and for the factories themselves, on October 4. In mid-October the fascist German forces undertook a new offensive, but again met stubborn resistance by Soviet forces. The fighting in the streets of the city, in the buildings, at the factories, and on the banks of the Volga continued unceasingly for several days and nights. The fighting was especially heavy for V. A. Gorishnyi’s 95th Division, V. G. Zholudev’s 37th Guards Rifle Division, I. E. Ermolkin’s 112th Division, S. F. Gorokhov’s group, I. I. Liudnikov’s 138th Division, and D. N. Belyi’s 84th Tank Brigade.

To assist the defenders of Stalingrad, engaged in heavy fighting, the forces of the Don Front on October 19 went over to the offensive from the north. The enemy was forced to divert a considerable number of airplanes, artillery, and tanks away from the assault on the city and direct them against the forces of the Don Front. At the same time, the Sixty-fourth Army delivered a counterstrike from the south against the flank of the advancing enemy units in the Kuporosnoe-Zelenaia Poliana area. The offensive by the Don Front and the counterstrike of the Sixty-fourth Army eased the situation of the Sixty-second Army and prevented the enemy from taking the city. In November the enemy attempted several offensives, but without success.

By the end of the defensive period of the battle of Stalingrad, the Sixty-second Army was holding the area north of the tractor plant, the Barrikady Plant, and the northeastern blocks of the city center, while the Sixty-fourth Army was staunchly defending the approaches to the southern parts. Between July and November the enemy had lost up to 700,000 troops, more than 1,000 tanks, more than 2,000 guns and infantry mortars, and more than 1,400 aircraft. The offensive of fascist German forces along the Stalingrad axis was gradually brought to a halt. Vigorous combat operations were under way at this time in the North Caucasus near Nal’chik and Tuapse. Thus, the fascist German command failed to achieve its strategic objectives in the summer and autumn campaign of 1942 and was forced to give its forces the order to pass to the defensive. The operational position of the fascist German groupings that had attacked Stalingrad and the Caucasus became difficult: there were no reserves, and the flanks of the front of Army Group B included the less effective Rumanian, Italian, and Hungarian forces. Soviet forces on the Don occupied favorable positions for a counteroffensive by the Southwestern and Don fronts.