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Stalingrad. Lethal ring for the Wehrmacht

Фонтан «Бармалей», один из символов Сталинграда

The Soviet and German forces during the Battle of Stalingrad was a common enemy – the terrain. Steppe, from which the city crested Wehrmacht, gradually went down from west to east, and when in September the Germans captured several key positions, they were able to view the location of Soviet troops and their deep rear. Stalingrad was on the right, high, banks of the Volga. Bridge near the town did not have the height difference between the two sides greatly complicates the creation of crossings. Stalingrad proceeded through two rivers which made it difficult to maneuver in the city for our troops and served as access paths to the city to the enemy.

Soviet troops was difficult to defend, but, on the other hand, the Germans were unable to advance in his usual style, agility, with the flank and rear impacts. So they were forced to storm Stalingrad in the forehead, methodically “hammer” strong points and forcing the defense line farther to the Volga, for which the defenders’ land was not. “

Since the beginning of urban fighting September 13, 1942 until the middle of November territory controlled by the Soviet 62nd Army Lieutenant General V. Chuikov, shrank to the band width of several hundred meters. According to his contemporaries, the commander himself sometimes doubted that can defend Stalingrad.

Trap walls, cobwebs streets

One of the truths of the military art: urban warfare should be avoided. But the war is not always possible choice. It happened at Stalingrad.

Any German offensive Split in the intertwining of city streets into many small battles, so dense that the opponents, the American expression could grab each other for belt buckles. There was a distance of battle, Soviet and German soldiers are often separated from each other by walls or ceilings. In the course were hand grenades, Molotov cocktails, flamethrowers and ampulomёty. As in the trench battles of World War I, the knife again became the most important and effective weapon equipment infantryman.

Soldiers of the 62nd Army acted aggressively and decisively, successfully maneuvered within the group of buildings or even a house, avoiding enemy attacks and passing counterattacks. Small groups of enemy often not strong enough to capture and hold objects, and large parts could not turn around in the ruins of shops and buildings, and they suffered heavy losses.

In urban battles of Stalingrad were born the concept and urban warfare tactics, which later proved useful in the storming of the Red Army Poznań, Berlin, Budapest and other cities

In Stalingrad fight small assault groups was as important as full-fledged divisions fight other battles. The first time this tactic has been used 19 September 1942 during the battle for the building of the State Bank, occupied by the Germans. Night three groups of Soviet machine gunners and sappers crept to this outpost defending approximately fifty German soldiers with machine guns and mortars. Crawling under fire from the enemy sappers were able to bring charges against the walls of 100-150 kg of TNT, and make a few breaks. While the garrison was stunned, assault groups rushed into the house. The main weapon of this battle began grenades: when stripping the building in each room they threw several pieces before bursting inside. Automatic fire was minor, including the fact that the walls, floors and debris prevented shooting. After a fierce fight the Germans were killed, and the State Bank passed into the hands of Soviet soldiers. And the same struggle was more for a lot of houses, shops and other facilities.

Снайпер В. Зайцев (слева) объясняет новичкам боевую задачу We should also mention about snipers. In Stalingrad confrontation of German and Soviet masters of fire was probably one of the most intense and widespread in history. It is widely known name Vasily Zaitsev recorded in Stalingrad at his own expense 225 Nazi soldiers and officers. There were 11 enemy snipers. Zaitsev was one of the founders of the movement, and many sniper taught this difficult case.

In Stalingrad, the Germans stubbornly failed to achieve a decisive superiority. September and October storms every time nearly succeeded, but only “almost”. Germans needed just one “extra” division, maybe only a few regiments to consolidate and build on this success. But it is precisely these necessary parts and connections at critical moments was not at hand. Meanwhile, in the German battalions had already been active for 10-30 bayonets, reduces the number of serviceable guns, planes and tanks. German veteran of the fighting in Stalingrad wrote: “ This is similar to what happened in the battle of the Somme in the war of 1914-1918., With the difference that here all these soldiers were killed in one city” .

“Little Saturn” big “Uranus”

On the whole front of Stalingrad in promёrzshey steppe turned furious battle in the style of World: trenches and infantry attacks, artillery fire shafts. These fights are not covered in the media, they are not written in the newspapers. But steppe battles were no less important than fighting in Stalingrad

On a more global – frontline – the level of the Germans had not only to storm Stalingrad, but also reflect the Soviet attacks in the north, between the Volga and the Don . Due to continuous “northern” Soviet attacks the Germans had to be strong at two key sites of the Battle of Stalingrad. From reserves and quieter sections of the front “siphoned” all the free compounds. Despite the promotion and capture almost all of the urban area, the troops under the command of Paulus experienced hidden, but a heavy crisis. German group suffered heavy losses in skilled infantry and tank units. Entire sections of the front relegated obviously less militant allies Reich – Romania and Hungary.

Against the background of urban fighting Soviet forces, taking into account the experience of previous failures, quietly and persistently preparing for a decisive counterattack. Initially, it was assumed that a significant role in it play infantry Don front. However, before they methodically beaten on the northern part of the German front and were severely fatigued. Therefore, the end of October was formed a new front – Southwest. He received at its disposal Panzer Army, two cavalry corps, more than fifty artillery and mortar regiments, including rocket artillery Reserve Command.

For success of the planned operations required coordinated work immediately three fronts. New, Southwest had to crush the weakest link – the defense of the Romanian 3rd Army, and then in a rapid pace (up to 40 kilometers per day) to advance to the southeast to get to the bend of the Don. Weaker Don Front, together with Southwestern cuts from Stalingrad group of German troops. Finally, the Stalingrad Front, located south of the city, had to defeat the Romanian Army Corps and encircle the German 6th Army in the south-east and south. Deep impact between the lakes to the south of Stalingrad Kalachov Don joined the Stalingrad front with Southwest and closed the great encirclement.

November 19, 1942 Southwestern and Don fronts moved to the offensive , starting one of the most critical and risky operations of the Red Army. The next day, when the enemy’s attention was diverted to the new threat, and began to operate the Stalingrad Front. Despite the resistance, on the third day of fighting the Romanian 3rd Army was surrounded. South-Western Front rolled forward towards agreed goals.

November 22 vanguard of Lieutenant Colonel Filippov (five tanks, two companies of infantry and armored cars), advancing with lighted lamps, surprise attack captured the most important crossing of the Don near the town of Kalach. On November 23, 16 hours troops north and south “claw” joined in the area of ​​Kalach and the Soviet farm. Setting closed.

“Ring” of ice and fire

Окончательный разгром немецкой группировки в Сталинграде cruel joke with Stalingrad group played the successful experience of the German defense surrounded by winter 1941-42 under Demyansk and hills, where everything you need delivered by air. Instead, the order to break out of the boiler commander of the German 6th Army F. Paulus was instructed to defend. But this time was surrounded by much larger forces, which required large-scale and sustainable supply. The head of the Luftwaffe G. Goering promised that his pilots to cope, despite the fact that the plane had to fly up to 200-300 km surrounded – almost five times more than under Demyansk. In addition, part of the involved vehicles not suitable for transport.

The Germans did not rely only on the air bridge. Already on December 12 external encirclement hit hit German unification – in rush formed Army Group “Don”. Nearly two weeks the German troops under the command of Manstein way to the surrounded, using as a battering ram group of Gotha, formed on the basis of the 4th Panzer Army. Again, over the Germans evil fate hung word “almost”. They almost broke through the encirclement, but I had to finish the break, and then keep it. A force for this was not. Group Gotha literally “whittle” gnawing Soviet defenses and maintaining response counterattacks. December 24 Stalingrad Front went on the offensive again. It became clear that the attempt to release encircled failed.

After a short pause necessary to address the priorities, attention turned to the Soviet High Command has fallen into the trap of the army. January 10, 1943, in the words of the German military, “opened up the grave.” Started operation “Ring” – the elimination surrounded by groups that ended February 2, surrender its residues. Sam F. Paulus surrendered to Soviet troops on January 31.

Red Army had a full and successful operation to encircle strategic scale. The results of the counteroffensive at Stalingrad controversial to this day. It remains debatable question whether it was a fatal blow or Reich finally lost the war later, in the summer of 1943. Anyway, with Stalingrad began a movement in the opposite direction – from east to west. Movement, stopped in May 1945 in Berlin.

Sources:

  • Dimarco Louis. Concrete Hell: Urban Warfare From Stalingrad to Iraq. Osprey Publishing, 2012.
  • Forczyk Robert. Red Christmas: The Tatsinskaya Airfield Raid 1942. Osprey Publishing, 2012.
  • fighting in Stalingrad. From the experience of fighting World War II. Colonel MV Savin. Lieutenant Colonel VM Kravtsov. – M .: Military Publishing, 1944.
  • Welz The soldiers, who were betrayed. – Smolensk: Rusich, 1999.
  • Isaev AV Stalingrad. Beyond the Volga there is no land for us. – M .: Yauza, Eksmo, 2008.
  • Pavlov JF Stalingrad. – Stalingrad: Regional publishing, 1951.

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