Battle for Stalingrad

After the battle

In the days and weeks after the battle, both the O.K.W. and Stavka started drawing up the balance. In military, psychological and humanitarian sense, the Axis powers had received a devastating blow. Nearly six Axis armies had been obliterated: the entire 6. Armee, the better part of 4. Panzerarmee and almost the entire Romanian 3rd and 4th armies. Moreover, the largest part of Luftflotte 4 had also been destroyed. Farther to the northwest, the Italian 8th and the Hungarian 2nd armies had been eliminated during the heavy fighting. During the battle as a whole, some 700,000 Soviet soldiers and over 100,000 civilians had been killed. In and around Stalingrad, some 470,000 soldiers had died and some 130,000 had been taken prisoner: 91,000 on January 31 and February 22nd. A total of 30 generals was taken prisoner, eight of them escaped from the Cauldron and six generals were killed. The Luftwaffe lost 575 aircraft in the course of the airlift. They managed to evacuate no less than 25,000 men from the Cauldron though.

On both sides, vast amounts of materials were lost as well. Between August 1942 and February 1943, the Axis powers lost a total of some 3,500 armored vehicles and 3,000 aircraft. The amount of material lost during that period would have been sufficient to equip an estimated 75 divisions. The Soviets lost some 4,500 armored vehicles, 16,000 guns and 3,000 aircraft. Of course it is all but impossible to express these losses in numbers. A lot of irreplaceable and experienced officers and men were either killed or taken prisoner.

In captivity

It was determined that almost 10,000 civilians had survived the fighting in the city, among them nearly 1,000 children of whom only nine were re-united with their parents. The physical condition of the German prisoners of war was so miserable, many died shortly after their arrest. In particular the long cold marches to the prison camps took their toll. Anyone too exhausted to carry on was either shot or simply left behind. Towards the spring already half of the prisoners had died. The Soviets had also gravely underestimated the number of prisoners and so had far too little food available.

Generals and junior officers fared a lot better. The generals were taken to a camp in the vicinity of Moscow by luxurious train. Whether they made it depended strongly on their rank. Out of the men and junior officers over 95% died, 55% of the officers and only 5% of the senior officers. In the spring, the other officers and men were also relocated. Much less attention was paid to the conditions during their transport as compared to that of the generals. Again many died. The soldiers and officers were scattered all over the Soviet Union. A number of men remained behind in Stalingrad to rebuild the city and to salvage the vessels of the Volga flotilla. Many former soldiers of 6. Armee were afraid they would be kept prisoner there for years to come. Their fears were later confirmed by Vyacheslav M Molotov (Bio Molotov) with his announcement that not a single German prisoner was to return home before Stalingrad had been rebuilt.

The B.D.O. turns against Germany

Soon after the victory at Stalingrad, the Soviet made plans to undermine the Nazi regime and replace it by a Communist puppet state. Prisoners of all ranks were to be divided in fascists and anti-fascists. To this end, the N.K.V.D. established the Nationalkomitee Freies Deutschland (N.K.F.D. or national committee of free Germany). Two months later, another group was established, the Bund Deutscher Offiziere (B.D.O., Union of German officers). During the interrogations by the N.K.V.D., three German generals were identified as possible collaborators, among them Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach (Bio Von Seydlitz). They had to try and persuade other generals. A few furious colleagues accused them of treason but others let themselves be persuaded. Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach was placed in charge of the B.D.O. The union mainly tried to stimulate German soldiers to surrender and incite the officerís corps to dethrone Hitler. After the failed attempt on Hitler on July 20th, 1944, Paulus also joined in. Hitler was furious when news of the treason of the generals reached him. He had Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach sentenced to death in absentia.

In 1949, a number of prisoners was suddenly tried for war crimes. A court martial pronounced General der Infanterie Karl Strecker guilty of the destruction of the tractor factory, although the factory had already been pounded to rubble when Streckerís men arrived. Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach was also sentenced as a war criminal. Both generals were sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.

From 1945 onwards, in and around Stalingrad, some 3,000 prisoners of war were released, individually or in groups. In 1955, some 2,000 survivors of the battle for Stalingrad remained in the Soviet Union. Following a visit to Moscow by German Bundeskanzler Konrad Adenauer in September 1955, most of them were released. In January 1946, the last prisoners were released, 13 years after the end of the war. A total of some 6,000 prisoners of war would eventually return to Germany.
Friedrich Paulus lived in the D.D.R. after his release where he wrote a series of articles to explain his position. He died in Dresden in 1957 after a prolonged illness.
Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach was hated by many in Germany. He died, embittered and disillusioned in 1976 in Bremen.
Vasily L. Chuikov was appointed commander of the force of occupation in Germany and deputy Minister of Defense under Nikita S. Chrushev. In 1955 he was appointed Marshal of the Soviet Union, just like his former chief of staff of 62nd Army, Nikolai I. Krylov and the former commander of the Stalingrad front Andrei I. Yeryomenko. Chuikov died in 1982 and was buried on the Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd, the former Stalingrad.

Definitielijst

battle for Stalingrad
The battle for Stalingrad took place in the south of the Soviet Union during World War nearTwo the river Volga. The battle lasted from 23 August 1942 until 2 February 1943. Approximately one million Soviets and one hundred and fifty thousand axis soldiers were killed. The battle was one of the cruellest of the World War 2 and considered a turning point, because the Axis-countries lost the battle and it triggered the start of their retreat.
front
Largest Soviet ground formation. It was attached to a certain area which gave its name to the units involved. For instance the Voronezh front.
Luftwaffe
German air force.
Marshal
Highest military rank, Army commander.
Nazi
Abbreviation of a national socialist.
Soviet Union
Soviet Russia, alternative name for the USSR.
Stavka
The high command of the Russian military forces in World War 2, chaired by Stalin.
war crimes
Crimes committed in wartime. Often concerning crimes committed by soldiers against civilians.

Sources

Internet:
- The Battle for Stalingrad
- Generals of World War II
- Military History Online - Battle of Stalingrad
- Axis History Factbook
- Feldgrau.com - The German Armed Forces 1919-1945
- Stalingrad.com.ru
- Axis Biographical Research
- Stalingrad.ws
- Stalingrad.ic.ru
- The Luftwaffe, 1933-45
- WorldWar2.ro - Romanian Army in the Second World War

Pagina navigatie

Afbeeldingen


Generalfeldmarschall Paulus is taken prisoner.


Colonel-generals Rokossovsky and Voronov interrogate Paulus.


A somber view of the city shortly after the battle.


A statue was erected on top of the Mamayev Kurgan in memory of the victims of the battle for Stalingrad.
(Source: Felix Dalberger)

Informatie

Translated by:
Arnold Palthe
Article by:
Auke de Vlieger
Published on:
29-01-2017
Last edit on:
18-03-2017
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