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FREE EPUB ¹ Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad ⚟ Stalingrad, the bloodiest battle in the history of warfare, cost the lives of nearly two million men and women It signaled the beginning of the end for the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler it foretold the Russian juggernaut that would destroy Berlin and make the Soviet Union a superpower As Winston Churchill characterized the result of the conflict at Stalingrad the hinge of fate had turned William Craig, author and historian, has painstakingly recreated the details of this great battle from the hot summer of August , when the German armies smashed their way across southern Russia toward the Volga River, through the struggle for Stalingrad a city Hitler had never meant to capture and Stalin never meant to defend on to the destruction of the supposedly invincible German Sixth Army and the terror of the Russian prison camps in frozen Siberia Craig has interviewed hundreds of survivors of the battle both Russian and German soldiers and civilians and has woven their incredible experiences into the fabric of hitherto unknown documents The resulting mosaic is epic in scope, and the human tragedy that unfolds is awesome This book is an account of one of the most decisive battles of World War II It marks the spot in history when the Russian Army stopped retreating from the relentless German invasion which was started in June 1941, and when the utter, catastrophic defeat of the Germans gave the Russians and their allies in the United States and Great Britain a huge morale boost This was one of those turning points where the ultimate outcome of a great conflict could trace its origins The invasion of the Soviet This book is an account of one of the most decisive battles of World War II It marks the spot in history when the Russian Army stopped retreating from the relentless German invasion which was started in June 1941, and when the utter, catastrophic defeat of the Germans gave the Russians and their allies in the United States and Great Britain a huge morale boost This was one of those turning points where the ultimate outcome of a great conflict could trace its origins The invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany in 1941 Operation Barbarossa was initially a huge success The Germans used their tried and tested Blitzkrieg tactics involving fast moving tank columns, supported by air support, and followed by mechanized infantry, to gobble up vast tracts of Russia After the winter of 1941 42, the upcoming German strategy included an attack on the Russian Caucasus oil fields by Army Group South This would deprive the Russians of their access to oil and place the supply in German hands The German dictator, Hitler, added an additional objective to the attack plan and split the Army Group by diverting the German 6th Army to capture the city of Stalingrad Benefits of this action would include the elimination of a Soviet manufacturing center, and receipt of positive propaganda that would ensue from capturing a city renamed after the Soviet tyrant and dictator.The German army, led by General Friedrich von Paulus, expected an easy victory The city was reduced to rubble first, by the German air force Tens of thousands of Russian civilians were killed in the opening days of the campaign, which started in the warm weather of July The German forces found themselves engaged in a door to door battle in a pile of rubble defended by Soviet soldiers who were committed to defend the city or die in the attempt All of the German advantages of fast movement, heavy guns and air superiority were cancelled they found themselves fighting for a fixed patch of land, and could not use artillery or aerial bombs to support their forces because their enemies were engaged with them, literally face to face An army which was used to overrunning a hundred kilometers of enemy ground a day was reduced to sending its soldiers to die or be wounded trying to capture single buildings Casualties on both sides piled up as battles were waged to capture, lose, and regain single buildings, sometimes multiple times If you think this review is turning into your least un favorite high school history class, don t despair This battle, like all great conflicts, has tons of books devoted to it A student of history could spend unlimited time just studying the data surrounding such actions, and that is all good and well if you want to research this subject deeply William Craig, however, has written this book for the general reader he has presented a story of the struggle of millions of people, soldiers and civilians alike, who found themselves involved in this human tragedy of huge proportions He, of course, gives the background of the battle in order to understand its context, but he is not writing a statistical treatise or army order of battle of the conflict He makes extensive use of first person accounts, including available historical records, and interviews which he has conducted with survivors As such, this is a work which, in a non partisan way, tells how civilians caught in a hotly contested war zone suffered from brutal abuse and starvation how attacking soldiers found themselves living for months in deadly proximity to their enemies, facing exposure to ever increasing freezing weather with inadequate winter clothing and diminishing rations while slowly realizing that there will be no retreat or rescue from certain death or capture how defending soldiers had to absorb unending casualties fighting in a city bordered by a river which they would not be permitted to re cross until their desperate, deadly enemy was subdued The key to the outcome of the battle was the location the river Volga, which ran against the eastern edge of the city The Germans, despite taking heavy losses, were able to push the Soviets back against the river to the extent that they eventually controlled about ninety percent of the city Even then, the Soviet commander, Marshal Georgi Zhukov, kept reinforcing his army in the city by sending them across the river first, in boats, then by foot across the ice The advance into the heart of the city by the Germans actually became their trap, because Zhukov was readying a counter offensive in the Germans rear In the best German inspired blitzkrieg fashion, the attacking Russian forces on the Germans flanks converged on a spot defended by the Germans inferior allied forces from Italy and Romania Germany augmented its forces in Barbarossa with Italian, Romanian and Hungarian army divisions This Russian pincer movement closed, and trapped over a quarter of a million German soldiers, and manyof their puppet allied forces, in an ever decreasing area Now, the Volga worked against the Germans They could not cross the river, because the Russians were on the other side, and they were surrounded by Russian forces outside the city Another German army group tried to break through the Russian noose but was repulsed The German commander, Paulus, did not receive permission from his superiors to break out of the trap, and he dithered until it was too late to act on a break out effort.The most famous soldier to emerge from this battle undoubtably was the Russian sniper Vassili Zaitsev He was a peasant soldier who was extremely deadly with a rifle He actually became an instructor of the sniper school the Russians set up in the ruins of a Stalingrad factory, and he proved to be the most proficient of the snipers who killed probably several thousand Germans there He was supposed to have killed forty Germans in a ten day period, out of a total 225 Germans that he killed Zaitsev was a windfall for the Russian wartime propaganda machine, even as the Stalingrad battle was raging He became a genuine Russian war hero He is the central story in the Hollywood film Enemy at the Gates , which depicts Zaitsev s love affair in the rubble of the city with army volunteer Tania Chernova Zaitsev later wrote about his war experiences, including the famous duel depicted in the film, with a German master sniper named Major Konings, or Konig, or Koning Craig spells it Konings According to Craig, Konings was dispatched to Russia in order to kill Zaitsev, after he became famous for killing Germans by the score Konings and Zaitsev eventually found themselves stalking each other and only one was going to survive Craig s book, which covers the duel in three or four pages, was not the main source of material for the film The filmmakers supposedly reliedon David L Robbins War of the Rats , named after the name used by German soldiers to describe fighting in this battleground of city ruins The edition of Enemy at the Gates I read is described as the movie tie in , containing pictures of Jude Law and Joseph Fiennes on the cover I really don t care much for editions called movie tie in , do you Just let me read the book the way the publisher s original art was used The cover of this book contains the notation An inspiration for the major motion picture , evidence that it was not the main source material for the film.The doomed German army continued to fight on until, by the end of January, 1943, its last remnants were about to be overrun The mad dictator at the German command post at the Wolfs Lair in East Prussia forbade surrender Hitler then cabled an order to Paulus which promoted him to the exalted rank of Field Marshal This was not an empty gesture it was a calculated attempt to force Paulus suicide No German Field Marshal had ever surrendered to the enemy, and the implication was clear that Paulus should give the Nazis a morale boost by making himself a martyr and going down in flames with his heroic army A physically and psychologically haggard Paulus instead contacted Zhukov and surrendered Craig notes Hitler s reaction to this attempt by Paulus to save the remnants of his depleted command from annihilation with the quote about the heroism of his soldiers being nullified by one single characterless weakling p 383 Craig drives the full impact of this moment in history home in his description of the actions of soldiers in all ranks of the Wermacht, from privates to generals, committing suicide with their weapons as the Russians closed in on their hiding places Many thousands of Germans did surrender Some were kept in Stalingrad by the Russians to help in rebuilding the city probably none survived the hard labor and disease that afflicted them The remaining prisoners were scattered tothan twenty camps ranging from the Arctic Circle to the southern deserts Again, Craig lets the impact of the predicament of these prisoners take effect on the reader The surviving German and other Axis prisoners were about to leave one scene of constant horror to a predicament of almost certain slow death to most of them One of many graphic horror stories involves the macabre death struggle taking place inside train cars containing German prisoners on their way to Central Asia, where the occupants killed each other for bits of food thrown into their cars every two days Craig writes thatthan four hundred thousand of the five hundred thousand German, Italian, Rumanian and Hungarian prisoners were allowed to perish, mostly by starvation, by the Russians from February to April of 1943 Starting in May, the Russians madeattempts to provide for sustaining the remaining prisoners until the end of the war These final survivors starting filtering home after May, 1945 Nothan five thousand German soldiers ever returned home, of the 91,000 remaining prisoners.William Craig provides an excellent history of the most costly battle, in terms of lives lost, ever The general reader interested in World War II, or the Battle of Stalingrad in particular, will be exposed to the ugly reality of warfare as very few can describe it A study of World War II is an exercise in tragedy To compare it to a Greek or even Shakespearean play is to engage in understatement and reverse hyperbole World War II is comparable to nothing else in history A student will delve into the political and economic backstory, come to vaguely understand the causes and the historical indices of what was to come Next he will learn of the epic battles and the strife that engaged millions But lurking in the shadows, like an especially miserable and A study of World War II is an exercise in tragedy To compare it to a Greek or even Shakespearean play is to engage in understatement and reverse hyperbole World War II is comparable to nothing else in history A student will delve into the political and economic backstory, come to vaguely understand the causes and the historical indices of what was to come Next he will learn of the epic battles and the strife that engaged millions But lurking in the shadows, like an especially miserable and haunting ghost is the name Stalingrad There the scholar will fail to grasp the scope of the calamity, be logically unable to find a way to comprehend the depths to which humans can descend Stalingrad, in a collection of names that evoke horror, names like Auschwitz, Dresden and Hiroshima stands apart Like World War II itself, it is like nothing else.William Craig, in his brilliant 1973 chronicle of the battle has recounted the meeting of an unstoppable force the German blitzkrieg and an immovable object the stubborn and obstinate Communists passionately defending their ground in an action eerily similar to the American Civil War Battle of Gettysburg where the initial goals were unrelated to the eventual conflict Stalingrad was a city the Germans had not intended to take and shielded by Russians who had not anticipated to defend.The numbers and statistics are incomprehensible What doesthan 800,000 dead look like Stalingrad, now Volgograd approximately a little north of the latitude of Seattle but in a hot and dusty steppe similar to the North American plains , is a long north to south river city skirting the Volga River with miles of streets adjacent to and parallel to the docks and the shoreline The invading Germans, used to gobbling up miles and rolling up hapless defenders in days, met an obdurate Soviet city situated against a natural barrier The mechanized war machine ground to an ugly halt in what would become blocks and blocks of urban warfare.The fast and lethal panzer divisions of the Nazi blitzkrieg were accustomed to lightning fast successes and up until then, they had proven unbeatable In Stalingrad, there progress was measured in street to street gains and with determined, dug in Soviets who gave ground unwillingly and then would retake a city block with a seemingly limitless supply of reserves coming in from the east.This was a street fight brutal, malicious and ugly Fighting in the streets, fighting in the same building, hand to hand combat Sniper duels, close range artillery, tanks set afire by Molotov cocktails thrown from upper story windows and then set upon by civilian factory workers The Soviets hid in cellars and attacked at night, they traveled through the sewers to fall in behind the attackers.Crossing the river to urban entrenched defenses, the inflexible, overconfident German tactics are reminiscent of the Union advance at Fredericksburg, with tenacious and merciless defenders employing heavy armaments at homicidal proximity and with hideous affect The November Soviet counter offensive that surrounded the over extended Nazis is likely still studied today.Told with an eye towards objectivity and with the good, the bad, and the ugly of both sides this is stillsympathetic to the Russians the stolid defenders of the city Craig fills his military history with colorful stories and frontline remembrances One anecdote told of three Russian soldiers cut off from their unit and were lost for days in the burning city The starving communists found a line for food and got in, were served a cup of soup and sat down at a table and only then realized all the others at the same table were speaking German They quietly finished their hot meal and left.Craig tells the stories of not just the leaders of both sides, the generals and political heads but also, and most notably, the privates, sergeants and junior officers who form the bulk of each army, and who bore the brunt of the deadly chess match played from far off Moscow and Berlin.And if you need a new reason to hate either Stalin or Hitler, especially the German leader, then this book provides plenty of cause of loathing for both.Of course, much of this battle was fought on the Russian steppe in winter, so the twin specters of starvation and deathly cold played out in Napoleonic fashion Craig s descriptions made these difficulties seem real and painful, transforming this narrative into an organic experience for the reader.An inspired, well researched, but brutally violent and frequently difficult to read military history This title was the catalyst for my enduring fascination with books covering the fighting on the Eastern Front during World War Two This is a great story of the fighting at Stalingrad endured by the German and Russian armies Although not as deeply researched as Glantz s titles this book offers an insight into the soldier s war and does it brilliantly This is still one of my top ten books ever which isn t bad considering it was first published in the early 1970 s Recommended for anyone who lov This title was the catalyst for my enduring fascination with books covering the fighting on the Eastern Front during World War Two This is a great story of the fighting at Stalingrad endured by the German and Russian armies Although not as deeply researched as Glantz s titles this book offers an insight into the soldier s war and does it brilliantly This is still one of my top ten books ever which isn t bad considering it was first published in the early 1970 s Recommended for anyone who loves a good historical account One would not be entirely correct if one thinks that the movie Enemy At The Gates was based on this book, even though the movie posters claims it to be so Somehow, it resembleswith the book War of the Rats by David L Robbins, which is a fictionalized account of the duel between two sharpshooters in the warzone of Stalingrad In my opinion, Stalingrad 1993 is a way better movie than the Hollywood one.This book in fact covers the whole battle of Stalingrad from the German perspective Fo One would not be entirely correct if one thinks that the movie Enemy At The Gates was based on this book, even though the movie posters claims it to be so Somehow, it resembleswith the book War of the Rats by David L Robbins, which is a fictionalized account of the duel between two sharpshooters in the warzone of Stalingrad In my opinion, Stalingrad 1993 is a way better movie than the Hollywood one.This book in fact covers the whole battle of Stalingrad from the German perspective Following statistics shows the magnitude of horror that perpetrated at Stalingrad which makes a personal duel between two sharpshooters relatively inconsequential if one looks at the whole picture Lives lost at Stalingrad Russians 750,000 men killed, wounded or missing in action.Germans almost 400,000 men lost.Italians 130,000 men lost out of 200,000 total.Hungarians 120,000 men killed.Rumanians 200,000 men lost.Civilian population of Stalingrad There were 500,000 people prior to the outbreak of War After the war ended, a census found only 1,515 people who had lived in Stalingrad in 1942 Sure, many were evacuated before the siege, but it has to be noted that about 40,000 civilians were known to have died in the first two days of bombing in the city.In five months of fighting and bombings, 99 percent of the city had been reduced to rubble More than forty one thousand homes, three hundred factories, 113 hospitals and schools had been destroyed.But with hindsight, one wonders, why try to capture Stalingrad at all Infact, the original plans for Case Blue Fall Blau did not call for the capture of Stalingrad The city was not even a primary target for attack As originally conceived, the strike force was to consist of two groups of armies, A and B Army Group A, under the command of Field Marshal List, included the Seventeenth and First Panzer armies Army Group B, under Fedor von Bock, boasted the Fourth Panzer and Sixth armies, which were to be aided by the Hungarians in support of their rear echelons The army groups were to move eastward on a broad front to the line of the Volga River in the area of the city of Stalingrad After neutralizing Russian war production in that region by bombing and artillery fire, and after cutting the vital transportation line on the Volga, both army groups were to turn south and drive on the oil fields of the Caucasus But Hitler himself had altered the scope of the campaign after German intelligence reported that the Russians had few reliable divisions on the west bank of the Volga The Armed Forces High Command also determined that the defense lines between the Don and Volga were primitive at best Hitler concluded that the Red Army was not about to make a major stand at Stalingrad, and he ordered Sixth Army to seize the city by force as soon as possible.Thus the onus of conquering Stalingrad fell upon the shoulders of Col Gen Friedrich von Paulus, commander of the Sixth Army Paulus as indicated by William Craig stopped annihilation of the Jews by the 6th Army which was done by clockwork precision until Paulus took over the command from his predecessor And until the fiasco of Stalingrad, Nazis were considered invincible by almost everybody The battle of Stalingrad changed that For the first time the Allies realized that after all, Germans were not supermen But one has to take into account the fact that the battle of Stalingrad was totally different from other theaters And the serious shortcomings of the Nazi War Machine were exposed at Stalingrad As they relied heavily on U Boats in the naval warfare while ignoring the superior power of aircraft carriers, similarly at the land arena, Germans depended heavily on their Blitzkrieg tactics which were rendered useless in the street fighting of Stalingrad The Russians in Stalingrad hid in cellars and used the sewer systems to good advantage And the mighty Russian Winter also played a huge role in the German defeat.For example, the Dzerhezinsky Tractor Works in Stalingrad, the assembly point for thousands of farm machines, which since the war was one of the principal producers of T 34 tanks for the Red Army, ran forthan a mile along the main north south road Its internal network of railroad tracks measured almost ten miles And Stalingrad was full of such factories which was a real achievement for the socialist regime For once, the name Stalin was attached to something in which the Soviet citizens took real pride Stalingrad As I said earlier, the movie of the same name only addresses a minor event that took place at Stalingrad, and true to its commercial Hollywoodian nature, the script only tells a fraction of the truth Even if you overlook the British accent of Jude Law while depicting a real life Russian hero Vassili Zaitsev He could have at least tried to soundlike a Russian, to give the movie an authentic feel , the film never fails to disappoint Yes, there truly was a 15 year old boy named Sacha Fillipov who lived in the suburb of Dar Goya with his family While his parents and ten year old brother stayed inside their house, the diminutive, frail Sacha went out to fraternize with the enemy A master cobbler from his training at trade school, Sacha introduced himself to German officers occupying a nearby building and offered his services to them while infact he was working as a double agent and was pointing out the precise locations of the German army to the Russians His end was bad as depicted in the movie butdepressing He was hanged in front of his parents alongwith two other boys by the retreating Germans when his true purpose was found out.And Tania Chernova wasbadass than the film leads one to believe She embarked on a relentless war against the enemy, whom she always referred to as sticks that one broke because she refused to think of them as human beings As a partisan, she had broken several sticks in the forests of Byelorussia and the Ukraine until she came to Stalingrad to breaksticks The famous sharpshooter, Vassili Zaitsev had killed nearly forty Germans in ten days time, and correspondents gloatingly wrote of his amazing ability to destroy his enemies with a single bullet Tania Chernova was one of his students They also became lovers But alas, after the war, they were separated as Tania was told incorrectly that Vassili Zaitsev was killed in action But he survived and Tania came to know of his survival only afterthan two decades But by then, Zaitsev was married forthan 15 years to another woman As Zaitsev was a national hero, and as his fame spread across no man s land, the Germans took an inordinate interest in him They called a Major Konings out from Berlin to kill him Unaware of the German plan, Zaitsev continued his one man war and began to teach thirty other Russians his specialty The third morning, Zaitsev had a new visitor, a political agitator named Danilov, who came along to witness the contest At first light, the heavy guns began their normal barrage and while shells whistled over their heads, the Russians eyed the landscape for a telltale presence Danilov suddenly raised himself up, shouting There he is I ll point him out to you Konings shot him in the shoulder As stretcher bearers took Danilov to the hospital, Vassili Zaitsev stayed very low and finally was able to kill Konings once his hiding place was revealed to him With a total of 240 confirmed kills by the end of the war, Vassili Zaitsev became one of the most well known Russian shooters of World War II.Zaitsev and Tania were even sent on a mission to kill Paulus at his 6th army headquarters but he was not there.The book follows many such brave heroes that fought on both sides On the Russian side, Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was made commanding general of the 62nd Army, which was to hold Stalingrad itself He developed the important tactic of hugging the enemy, by which under armed Soviet soldiers kept the German army so close to them as to minimize the superior firepower enjoyed by the Wehrmacht This tactic also rendered the German Luftwaffe ineffective, since they could not attack Red Army positions without firing upon their own forces Dr Ottmar Kohler, a surgeon in the German army, kept treating wounded soldiers even though he broke his upper jaw in Russian shelling He held his jaws together by inserting a cork into his mouth while treating the wounded He had moved his hospital to within a half mile of the front Stubbornly insisting that all German aid stations treat men within minutes of their being wounded, he had fought the traditions of the German Army And one of the most famous sites of the battle of Stalingrad was perhaps Pavlov s House where a relentless Russian soldier named Jacob Pavlov had created a stronghold in the central part of Stalingrad Once four tanks came and fired pointblank into the building But the wily Pavlov was ready for them Because the tanks could neither elevate nor depress their cannon at such close range, he had moved some of his men to the fourth floor and others to the cellar A single shot from his lone antitank gun put one enemy panzer out of action and machine gun fire scattered the German infantry As the foot soldiers bolted, the tanks skidded back to safety around the corner Pavlov s House became a beacon of resilience for Russian soldiers fighting for Stalingrad.Captain Ignacy Changar was an expert guerrilla fighter and preferred to work with a knife a technique he had perfected in the forests of the Ukraine, where he spent months during the first year of the war There he had seen the Germans at their worst and the experience affected him deeply One of his skirmishes with the Germans at Stalingrad is worth mentioning here.Ordered to occupy a half demolished building west of the Barrikady Plant, he had led fifty men into it only to find a sizable German force entrenched in a large room across a ten foot wide hallway The corridor was impassable No one on either side dared mount a rush, and Changar tried to estimate the size of the opposition From the babble of voices, he judged it sufficient to hold him in check Days went by Food and ammunition were passed in through the windows Changar assumed the Germans were doing the same so he ordered special equipment spades, shovels, and 170 pounds of dynamite The Russians broke through the concrete floor and started a tunnel Digging two at a time, they slowly worked a passageway under the corridor To mask the noise of the tools, they sang songs at the top of their voices The Germans also burst into song from time to time, and Changar immediately figured the enemy was planning to blow him up, too On the eleventh day, Changar ordered a halt to further excavation After carefully placing the dynamite at the end of the tunnel, he cut and lined a fuse along the dirt passage up into the main room The Germans were singing again, and someone on the other side of the hall had added a harmonica as accompaniment While his men sang a last lusty ballad, Captain Changar lit the fuse and hollered to the two men still in the hole to run like hell With the fuse sputtering, everyone tumbled out the low windows and scattered hastily across the yard, but the explosion came too quickly It picked them up and hurled them down again with stunning force The shaken Changar looked back to see the strongpoint rising slowly into the air It expanded outward, then broke into hundreds of pieces A huge ball of fire catapulted up from the debris He rose and called for his men Only two had failed to get clear, the men who had been in the hole Changar realized he had cut the fuse too short and he worried about the error until the next day, when he went back to examine his handiwork He counted three hundred sixty legs before he lost interest and left, satisfied that the 180 dead Germans were a partial payment for his error.While the street fighting was ongoing, Russians had already launched a major offensive to take Stalingrad back, Operation Uranus.Despite severe casualties, Paulus s requests of the German retreat were repeatedly refused by Hitler, even though Stalingrad was no longer worth the price If it 6th Army left Stalingrad, Hitler declared, we ll never get it back again The 6th army needed to retreat immediately before the Russians gathered enough forces to crush it under its pincer movements Even to hold out until relief arrived from north under Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, 200 tons of air supplies were required daily, as supply from land had become impossible No German soldier believed that the Luftwaffe was upto that daunting task and the final decision of a timely retreat depended on that decision Hermann G ring much to the chagrin of everybody else except Hitler promised loftily to fulfill the 200 ton quota of daily requirement of the 6th army through air drops As expected, he failed miserably But by then, the chance of retreat has passed as the 6th army was now completely surrounded by the Russians There was no way out any Even the freedom of action on Russian ultimatum of surrender was denied to Paulus by Hitler The F hrer was insisting on a fight to the death, because every day the Army holds out helps the entire front Hitler was now looking for a glorious chapter of German martyrdom which, according to him, would resonate with the battle of Thermopylae The battle of Stalingrad had eventually degenerated into a personal struggle between the egos of Stalin and Hitler.Finally the combination of pincer tactics adopted by the mighty Red army and the great Russian winter proved too much for the Germans Paulus surrendered to the Russian army on 31 January 1943, thus starting a chain of events that would end with the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the eventual fall of Berlin henceforth obliging World War II historians to rightly note that, Stalingrad was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich