Battle for Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in Southern Russia, on the eastern boundary of Europe.
Marked by constant close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians by air raids, it is often regarded as the single largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. The heavy losses inflicted on the German Wehrmacht make it arguably the most strategically decisive battle of the whole war. It was a turning point in the European theatre of WWII–the German forces never regained the initiative in the East and withdrew a vast military force from the West to replace their losses.
The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in late summer 1942 using the 6th Army, under Field Marshal, Walter von Reichenau (see Reichenau) and elements of the 4th Panzer Army, under Generaloberst Erich Hoepner Hoepner was implicated in the failed 20th July Plot against Adolf Hitler and executed in 1944. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The fighting degenerated into building to building fighting, and 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 generally along the west bank of the Volga River. Hitler proclaimed that after Stalingrad had been captured, all male civilians were to be killed and all women and children were to be deported because Stalingrad was dangerous with its communist inhabitants.
On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian forces protecting the German 6th Army’s flanks. The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army under General Friedrich Paulus, 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, (see General Hoth and von Manstein). 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 remaining elements of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted five months, one week, and three days.
The Axis suffered 850,000 total casualties (wounded, killed, captured) among all branches of the German armed forces and its allies; 400,000 Germans, 200,000 Romanians, 130,000 Italians, and 120,000 Hungarians were killed, wounded or captured.
On the material side, the Germans losses were 900 aircraft (including 274 transports and 165 bombers used as transports), 500 tanks, and 6,000 artillery pieces. According to a contemporary Soviet report, 5,762 artillery pieces; 1,312 mortars; 12,701 heavy machine guns; 156,987 rifles; 80,438 sub-machine guns; 10,722 trucks; 744 aircraft; 1,666 tanks; 261 other armoured vehicles; 571 half-tracks; and 10,679 motorcycles were captured by the Soviets. An unknown amount of Hungarian, Italian, and Romanian material was lost.
The USSR, according to archival figures, suffered 1,129,619 total casualties; 478,741 personnel killed or missing, and 650,878 wounded or sick. On the material side, the USSR lost 4,341 tanks destroyed or damaged, 15,728 artillery pieces, and 2,769 combat aircraft.
Anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 Soviet civilians died in Stalingrad and its suburbs during a single week of aerial bombing by Luftflotte 4, under Generalfeldmarschall Wolfgang von Richthofen) as the German 4th Panzer and 6th Armies meanwhile under command of Friedrich Paulus) approached the city; The total number of civilians killed in Stalingrad is unknown.
In all, the battle resulted in an estimated total of 1.7–2 million Axis and Soviet casualties. Aircraft losses of the Luftwaffe for the supply of the 6th Army at Stalingrad, and the recovery of wounded from 24 November 1942 to 31 January 1943: 495 aircraft of all types.
“Lucky” Heinz Huhn was born in 1920 in Rochlitz, Saxony. He was trained as a waiter and then drafted into the army in 1940. Huhn served as gunner in the 94th Infantry Division , under command of General of the Infantry Hellmuth Volkmann , who died on 21-08-1940 in Berlin, Gattow, which division was stationed in France and transferred to the Eastern Front in June 1941. In Stalingrad he took part in the storming of the “Red Barricades” munitions factory. He was sent on home leave on November 8, 1942, just days before the Red Army began to encircle the German troops at Stalingrad. Hurriedly recalled to the front, Huhn joined Panzer Group Hermann Hoth , which unsuccessfully tried to break up the encirclement. In March 1943 his unit was deployed to Italy. Huhn was captured by American forces in 1945 and released from captivity in 1946.