Order of Battle: the Red Army in World War II
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This work has been a central component of my research of the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War.
The Russian V-Day Story (or the History of World War II not often Heard in the West)
Sharp provided me with precisely what I was looking for: a list and thumbnail history of Red Army units from brigade to army which existed during the fight with Nazi Germany. On paper, the Red Army should have triumphed in Sharp provides us with one of the reasons why that didn't happen. Go to Amazon. Discover the best of shopping and entertainment with Amazon Prime. Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery on millions of eligible domestic and international items, in addition to exclusive access to movies, TV shows, and more. Back to top. Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping.
Audible Download Audio Books. In July , he issued Order No. It would stand and fight.
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To make matters worse, he also canceled the evacuation of civilians, forcing them to stay in Stalingrad and fight alongside the soldiers. It is alleged that Stalin believed Red Army soldiers would fight harder if civilians were forced to stay, committing more to battle than they would if they were only protecting empty buildings. The initial German attack on Stalingrad caught the Soviet forces off guard, as they had been expecting the Nazis to remain focused on Moscow.
The German war machine continued to advance rapidly and by August, Gen. The Axis armies proceeded to level the city with vicious artillery and aircraft bombing, killing thousands and making the rubble-strewn ruins impassable by tanks. As a response, the Soviet 62nd Army fell back into the city center and prepared to make its stand against the German infantry.
Clinging to the western bank of the Volga River, the Soviets' only resupply option were barges crossing the water from the east. Red Army soldier Konstantin Duvanov, 19 years old at the time, recalled years later the scenes of death on the river. They were the remains of people who were being evacuated across the Volga, when they were bombed.
By September, the Soviet and Nazi forces were engaged in bitter close-quarters combat for Stalingrad's streets, houses, factories, and even individual rooms. And it looked like the Germans had the upper hand. By the time Soviet Gen. Vasily Chuikov arrived to take command, the situation was turning increasingly desperate for the Soviets. Their only option was to make a last stand in the city to buy time for a Soviet counterattack.
Considering their dire situation, and frustrated that three of his deputies had fled to save their own lives, Chuikov chose the most brutal methods imaginable to defend the city.
Prelude to the Battle of Stalingrad
Although this tactic was an element of the Soviet method, it was the Nazi brutalities which contributed to the Soviets' stubborn defense of Stalingrad. German historian Jochen Hellbeck writes that the number of Soviet soldiers shot and killed by their own commanders due to cowardice has been vastly exaggerated. Instead, Hellbeck quotes legendary Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev, who said that the sight of "the young girls, the children, who hang from the trees in the park Another Soviet soldier recalled a fallen peer "whose skin and fingernails on his right hand had been completely torn off.
The eyes had been burnt out and he had a wound on his left temple made by a red-hot piece of iron. The right half of his face had been covered with a flammable liquid and ignited. By October , Soviet defenses were on the brink of collapse. The Soviet position was so desperate that the soldiers had their backs literally up against the river.
Soviet order of battle for the Battle of Stalingrad
By this point, German machine gunners could actually hit the resupply barges that were crossing the water. Most of Stalingrad was now under German control, and it looked like the battle was about to be over. But in November, the Soviets' fortunes began to turn.
German morale was evaporating due to increasing losses, physical exhaustion, and the approach of the Russian winter. The Soviet forces began a decisive counteroffensive to liberate the city. On November 19, following a plan created by famed Soviet Gen. Georgy Zhukov, the Soviets launched Operation Uranus to liberate the city. Zhukov masterminded the Red Army attack from both sides of the German attack line with , Soviet troops, tanks, and 1, aircraft.
Against the advice of his commanders, Hitler ordered Gen. Paulus to hold his army's position at all costs. Friedrich Paulus of Germany was found in an emaciated state after the Nazis finally surrendered. Paulus was forbidden from trying to fight his way west and out of the city, and with no land passage available, his soldiers had to be resupplied by air drops from the German Luftwaffe.
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As winter set in, the Germans inside Stalingrad were freezing to death, running out of supplies, and starving on short rations. A typhus epidemic hit, with no medications available. Stories of cannibalism began to spread from the city. In December, a rescue attempt was mounted from outside the city. It was an effort dubbed Operation Winter Storm. By the end, the German 6th Army had been trapped in the battle of Stalingrad for almost three months facing disease and starvation and low on ammunition, and there was little left to do than die within the city.
About 45, men had already been captured, and another , were dead inside and around the city. Rescue attempts had been defeated by the Soviets, and the Luftwaffe, which was dropping supplies by air to provide the only food available to the trapped Germans, could only supply one third of what was needed.
On Jan. Friedrich Paulus: If he surrendered within 24 hours, his soldiers would be safe, fed, and given the medical care they needed. But Paulus, on orders from Hitler himself, refused. The Germans believed that by prolonging the Battle of Stalingrad, the Germans would weaken the Soviets' efforts on the rest of the Eastern Front.
Days later, Hitler doubled down on Paulus, sending him word that he had been promoted to Field Marshal, and reminding him that no one of that high rank had ever surrendered.
But the warning didn't matter — Paulus officially surrendered the next day. When Soviet officers entered Stalingrad after the German surrender, they found Paulus "seemed to have lost all his courage. It stank beyond belief," according to Maj. Anatoly Soldatov. Some estimate that more than 90 percent of the surrendered Germans would not survive Soviet captivity for long.
Of the , who had occupied Stalingrad, barely 5, survived the war. Paulus and his second-in-command, Gen. Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, however, found a way to stay alive. They cooperated with Soviet officials through the "Free Germany Committee," a propaganda group composed of war prisoners who broadcast anti-Nazi messages. Paulus and Seydlitz would go on to become highly vocal critics of the Nazis for the rest of the war. In the end, it was the fight against the Soviets, not against western Europe, that led to the Nazis' defeat.
After the Battle of Stalingrad, even the tone of the Nazi propaganda changed. The loss had been so devastating that it could not be denied, and it was the first time that Hitler publicly acknowledged defeat. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda specialist, gave a speech after the Battle stressing the mortal danger that Germany faced, and calling for total warfare against the east. Thereafter, they launched Operation Citadel, attempting to destroy the Red Army at the Battle of Kursk , but they would fail yet again.
Next, take a look at 54 photos of the Battle of the Bulge that capture the Nazis' last-ditch counteroffensive. By Natasha Ishak. Like this gallery? Share it: Share Tweet Email. Women digging near damaged train tracks during the Battle of Stalingrad. Dead bodies covered by snow in Stalingrad. An airplane wreckage lies in Stalingrad, with a devastated building in the background.