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Stalingrad - A Lifetime Ago

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Martin Bull, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Just thought it worth marking that, 70 years ago today, men of the German 6th Army awoke to a dreaded word - 'Surrounded !'.
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Hitler was still sleeping until afternoon to hear about this as nobody dared to wake him up... ;)
     
  3. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    The »Cauldron« was vast area; a 100 miles large square and the impression of entrapment escaped many soldiers. They realized much later that they really have been surrounded.
     
  4. R. Evans

    R. Evans Member

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    I don't think it really hit home until von Manstein's rescue attempt failed.
     
  5. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Some survivors' accounts see it differently, and I don't think the power of rumour and hearsay should be underestimated. To take just one example : -

    'From November 22nd....the feeling of being encircled made us look to the West with demanding eyes, seeking out our comrades who had assembled to free us from this catastrophe.....Here in the Cauldron, nearly everybody believed that the day would come when we would be freed from this depressing situation....'

    Joachim Stempel, 14th Panzer Division, quoted in Wijers, 'The Battle For Stalingrad and the Operation to Rescue 6th Army'.
     
  6. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Lieutenant Joachim Stempel, a son of Lieutenant General Richard Stempel is a remarkable whiteness and survivor of the battle of Stalingrad. I find his description of farewell with his father at Stalingrad as one of the most remarkable testimonies about the struggle for Stalingrad. It is indeed pity that many people of his kind perished all around the Europe for Führer’s daydreaming.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

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    ^ I have indeed heard this man's eyewitness accounts. His father committed suicide (his father was an officer as well), and bid him farewell with, "I'll see you up there, soon, where all brave soldiers go. Take care, my son." I remember in BBC's "War Of The Century" Documentary of the Eastern Front they have a large section of interview with this man. Truly an incredible story.
     
  8. 36thID

    36thID Member

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    On this day, February 2nd, the final remnants of the 6th surrendered. These brave men discarded by Hitler faced their cruel future. Hitler just sat in Berlin and shrugged them off. At least he allowed 3 days of music in their honor.

    WW 2 had many low points, the obvious sacrifice of men by commanders being the lowest... (Dunkirk, Rapido, Bonzai etc.). This was the worst example. Still can't believe there wasn't one brave military official with a spine to put a bullet in Hitler's stupid head that day.
     
  9. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    All credit to Russia and her people at the time.
     
  10. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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  11. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Unfortunately, as many as 70,000 inhabitants were living in the city through the ordeal and are usually forgotten when speaking of the battle within. Out of 70,000 only 1154 survived.
     
  12. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    A point which was well made in 'War Of The Century' via an interview with an elderly woman who was one of the children of Stalingrad ( she is moved to tears when recalling her eventual rescue by the Red Army ).
     
  13. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    STALINGRAD.

    The very name conjures images of the Ost-Front. Some of these images, from the German perspective, are recorded in a volume I have called "The Onslaught"-The German drive to Stalingrad. It's a series of color photographs that record the Sixth Army as it approached it's destiny...The commentary at the front of the book is short....and sweet...

    "Today, even those that lived through the period can barely understand why the German people failed to realize that the war had been irretrievably lost. "Raise your nose and firmly close your eyes", cynics sang to the tune of the Nazi "Horst Wessel Song", ("Raise high the flag and firmly close your ranks".) Others coined the slogan "Enjoy the war, the peace will be much worse."

    The desperate predicament of the ordinary German soldier was recorded in his diary by a young cadet officer, just before he was killed....

    "It is often extremely difficult to carry out orders. We have just had to raze an entire village to the ground. The poor people! "You're supposed to be a cultured nation," a woman said to me. All one can do is shrug one's shoulders. They begged us on their bended knees, offered us all their money, held out their icons for us. But what good was that? Orders are orders. For what terrible crimes are we being punished, even in our youth? Who is it all for? Is the war a big swindle after all? Why do we put up with it all? For the Fuhrer? The nation? The Fatherland? No! No! No! We put up with it just because our comrades are in the s**t with us and we can't leave them in it! They've got to put a stop to this slaughter of young people, now, while there is still time. But that lot has no conscience. Thats all! - the Russians are attacking- farewell! It will soon be over!"

    "From General von Wiechs, Commander of Armee Group 'B', through Gen. Paulus, Commander of the Sixth army, down to the divisional commanders in the pocket, everyone was agreed that only a quick break-out could now save the situation. Hitler nevertheless ordered the army to adopt a 'hedgehog' position outside Stalingrad. The troops would be supplied by air and could count on speedy relief.
    At this point, the German generals did not need higher powers of political and moral judgement but quite simply a sense of responsibility. Since they were all agreed that a break-out attempt was the ONLY way out of the impasse, they had simply to do what was right. There need be no question of conspiracy or insubordination. For even the youngest cadet officer learns at the military academy that he cannot be expected to follow patently absurd orders, indeed must not follow ordershe considers absurd. What was needed was simply an appeal to that oft-invoked espirit-de-corps of the German officer, to his professional pride and to what Clausewitz called his 'Guild Spirit', by which he wanted to stress that the soldiers job is first of all a trade. The soldier does not, however, deal in leather, iron, flour, wood or cotton, but in human lives, which obliges him to follow the rules of his trade with particular care- in this field, bungled work turns into crime very quickly."

    "There had originally been thirty-four generals in the 'Kessel'. Seven had been flown out, including one who was wounded. One had gone missing, another had chosen suicide. Just one had sought and found death on the battlefield. The rest were quick to despatch radio messages full of swastikas into the ether. It was these men who supplied Goebbels with the hollow phrases which he used to declare 'Total War.' And now these latter day Leonidases and Nibelungs, who were feted as such in Berlin, handed their pistols over to the first 'Bolshevik sub-human' who stepped into their bunker and meekly allowed themselves to be led away, actions they themselves had described not so many hours earlier as dishonourable and shameful."

    "When von Manstein, the famed strategist and the man who held the key position at the front, was asked who was responsible for this turn of events, he quoted Hitler's declaration of February 6th 1943: "I myself bear full responsibility for Stalingrad." And obviously grateful for this exoneration, he even called this glibly cynical announcement "decent and soldier-like." It never occurred to him to make the only possible retort: "Then take the consequences, Herr Hitler, and step down." Was that too much to expect from a military leader who, day after day, had ordered a hero's death for thousands of soldiers? How much gallantry and the courage of his convictions can one really ask of a Field Marshal without being thought impertinent? Naturally, when generals look upon themselves as nothing more than an instrument for the tranmission of orders, when they no longer take the responsiblities befitting their status, then indeed, Hitler can be have said to have borne sole responsibility for everything.

    "I suppose you want to kill him," von Manstein said indigantly a few months later, in the summer of 1943, when a delegate of conspiritors spoke of the long overdue 'reorganization' of the High Command. "Like a mad dog," the man replied. Von Manstein would have none of it. "It would ruin the Army!" he declared.

    Von Manstein did not have the conspiritor arrested, or hand him over to Hitler's courts. He bowed curtly and declared:
    "I am of course at the service of any legal government as the Chief of General Staff."

    Hitler's generals were 'available for service' once again after the war, in the East and West, like tradesmen whose services are retained by whoever may be in control...


    The German Army lost it's historic moment and opportunity to "sweep away the man who had led Germany so murderously astray and, in one great act of self-purification before the whole world, save at least a MORSEL of German honour by calling a halt there and then...."


    The German officer corps lost any credibility they may have had with their defeat at Stalingrad....it cost millions of lives to keep the war going for another two and a half years. A few brave officers could have achieved the replacement of Adolf Hitler by forfieture of their lives.

    When Klaus Von stauffenburg declared that he would do the job, "Even at the expense of his life," he backed down at the last moment before the job was finished. Even at this late stage, Stauffenburg alone could have saved the honour of the German Officer Corps and General staff.

    But, like the men of Stalingrad who were sacrificed, millions more were to be sent six feet under, while the Officers of Germany dallied about, sparing their own miserable careers.
     
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  14. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    It's worth mentioning that the above words were written by Heinrich, Graf von Einsiedel in 1983. The book is 'The Onslaught - The German Drive To Stalingrad' published in English by Sidgwick & Jackson, with an introduction by Max Hastings, in 1984.

    Heinrich Graf von Einsiedel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  15. Steve Petersen

    Steve Petersen Member

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    Way too much sympathy for the Germans for my taste.
     
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  16. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Sympathy?

    Hastings and Einsiedel are realists. No sense laying the blame on the ordinary 'landser'. Put the reponsibility where it actually lays, with the generals and Fuhrer who were controlling this vast collection of technology and people.

    And blame too the Generals for their "arse-coverage". In fact, put the onus fairly and squarely on the man who let the soldiers descend into the wretched condition that they were in, by failing to supply them, and then letting someone else take the responsibility away from him for an airlift that was never going to meet the needs of the Sixth Army. That man was Chief of Staff....Erich von Manstein.

    Why not tell it like it was? And some feel that Stalingrad was one of Manstein's "Lost Victories"? NO! It was a SHAMBOLIC defeat!

    No sympathy there.

    Hoist your flag for the long suffering Russian soldier! POBYEDA!!!! The Russian began to LIVE again, after the decent into darkness. By extinguishing the Nazi torch Parade that was Barbarossa, and inflicting a spanking defeat on the cream of the German Army, for once, the Soviet Union became something in the eyes of the West that it never achieved again.....

    Europe said SPASIBO.....A very humble thankyou!
     
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  17. 36thID

    36thID Member

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    Only referring to the infantry and air support soldiers being used as personal pawns. The men of the 6th took the punishment for idiots in Berlin. They followed their orders and fulfilled their oath for fools knowing they were doomed, yet could have been saved.
     
  18. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Volga, I'd hate to speak for anyone, Steve P can speak for himself...But I presume he is speaking of this thread not the whole story of Stalingrad. The Russians were the folk who fought their way to victory around Stalingrad. No matter what we think of their leaders too and like for like in gulags or camps or whatever....Their victory and their rescue as some have said here is to be celebrated before any sympathy should be given to their invaders. I just hope that and I don't do what if's generally...but if London in 1947 was eventually releived by a joint Commonwealth American invasion force that eventually fought their way through and defeated the enemy we would celebrate their victory and the relief of out own against the enemy.
     
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  19. 36thID

    36thID Member

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    Nothing about the great victory for Russia. They rightfully smashed the invaders. My comments were about the Berlin dummkopfs.
     
  20. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    On The Way To Stalingrad : 6th Army In 1941-42 by Bernd Boll and Hans Safrian offsets any sympathy for 6th Army to a considerable degree.
     

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