Stalingrad

General Hermann Hoth’s Fourth Panzer Army finally arrived south of Stalingrad, after its turn at Kotelnikovo, and attacked the Soviet 64th Army commanded by Major General M. S. Shumilov. In the hill country, the 64th Army fought the Fourth Panzer Army to a standstill on 23 August.

As the area around Red Square burned, 6,000 soldiers were ferried across the Volga River and sent north to confront Lieutenant General Hans Hube’s 16th Panzer Division which entered Stalingrad from the west striking toward the tractor factory on the north end of the city. These soldiers, with the assistance of unpainted T-34 tanks from the factory driven by factory workers, stopped this attack.

Adolf Hitler moved his headquarters from Rastenburg, East Prussia to Vinnitsa, Ukraine on 25 August. On the same date a state of siege was declared in Stalingrad.

Marshal Semyon K. Timoshenko was quietly removed from command of the defense of Stalingrad, and replaced by the savior of Moscow, General Georgy Zhukov, with Varonov in charge of artillery, and Novikov in charge of the Soviet Air Force in the Stalingrad area.

General Hoth’s troops sidestepped the Soviet position in the hills south of Stalingrad and attacked on 30 August penetrating the Soviet fortification at Gavrilovka. This move threatened to drive a wedge between the Soviet 64th and 62nd Armies. The 64th Army retreated into the city.

Turning east Hoth’s Fourth Panzer Army struck into the city and reached the Volga River south of the grain elevator on 10 September.

Lieutenant General Aleksandr I. Lopatin, commanding the 62nd Army, was relieved of command on 12 September and replaced by General Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov who promised he would hold the city or die there.

On the same date, Lieutenant General Friedrich von Paulus and General Maximillian von Weichs were called to Hitler’s headquarters in Vinnitsa. He told them it was vital to take Stalingrad and the banks of the Volga River. Von Paulus voiced concerns about the northern flank of the Sixth Army, at which point Hitler reassured him the allied armies were watching the Volga banks in that area.

Von Paulus launched his main offensive on 13 September after an artillery bombardment.

On the 14th of September Chuikov moved his headquarters from the threatened Mamayev Hill to the bunker in the Tsaritsa Gorge.

The Luftwaffe bombed Soviet forces, concentrating on the railroad station where the Soviets kept their last reserve of tanks.

Under severe pressure, Chuikov knew he had to keep the Germans from taking the Volga River ferry landing. Without that the 10,000 soldier of the 13th Guards Division, commanded by Major General Alexandr Ilyich Rodintsev, would not be able to reinforce the defenders.

Rodintsev’s soldiers landed on the west bank of the Volga on 15 September and were able to retake Mamayev Hill on the 16th.

The battle for Stalingrad took on the appearance of a house-by-house fight. This erased the German army’s superiority in training and teamwork allowing the Soviets to take advantage of their knowledge of the city to pop up behind the German lines and force them to fight back through areas they had already taken.

By 21 September the Germans cleared all of the Tsaritsa Gorge and positioned themselves within a few yards of the landing stage forcing Chuikov to move his headquarters to the Matveyev-Kurgon area.

Sources: Red Army Resurgent, John Shaw and the Editors of Time-Life Books, Time-Life Books, Inc., Chicago, IL, 1979

“Drive to the Don,” Alan Clark, History of the Second World War Magazine, 1970s

“Stalingrad: The Onslaught,” Alan Clark, History of the Second World War Magazine, 1970s

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