Stalingrad: How the Red Army Survived the German Onslaught

Overview

This new history of Stalingrad offers a radical reinterpretation of the most crucial battle in World War II. Focusing on the first half of this epic clash, it reveals new information on how nearly the Germans succeeded, and the incredible courage of the Soviet fighters who held on.

Red Army chief of staff Vasilevsky called August 23, 1942, when the Germans reached the Volga, “an unforgettably tragic day.” The Russians had never been able to stop a good-weather German offensive, ...

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Overview

This new history of Stalingrad offers a radical reinterpretation of the most crucial battle in World War II. Focusing on the first half of this epic clash, it reveals new information on how nearly the Germans succeeded, and the incredible courage of the Soviet fighters who held on.

Red Army chief of staff Vasilevsky called August 23, 1942, when the Germans reached the Volga, “an unforgettably tragic day.” The Russians had never been able to stop a good-weather German offensive, and it appeared that Stalin’s namesake city would be lost. Indeed, Soviet armies on all sides were falling back before Hitler’s summer offensive, and only one, the 62nd Army, was assigned to hold out in the city to defy the Wehrmacht. Who could have guessed that this sole force, surrounded on three sides, the river at its back, hiding out in ruins, would create such a bleeding sore that the Wehrmacht was never to recover?

Combining eyewitness testimony of Red Army fighters with fresh archive material, this book gives dramatic insight into the thinking of Soviet commanders and the desperate mood of ordinary soldiers. Col-General Anatoly Mereshko, a staff officer to 62nd Army commander Chuikov, worked closely with the author and provided testimony that is entirely new. His accounts of the battle are supported by other key veterans and recently released war diaries and combat journals.

For three months in Fall 1942 the Germans held a preponderance of force in Stalingrad as they tried to root out the diehards of 62nd Army. The latter force was nearly annihilated on several occasions, as guns from across the river failed to stem the German attacks and the Luftwaffe plunged into the chaos, bombing at will. The Russians could only respond by going underground, in caves near the river and in the labrynthine ruins of the city itself. Yet, as the rest of the Motherland held its breath, the small, surrounded force—motivated by inspirational leadership as well as a grave sense of the battle’s vital importance—continued to deny the Nazis a victory.

As we now know, Stalin was not idle while the courageous remnants of 62nd Army continued to defend his city. On November 19 and 21, new Soviet armies in overwhelming strength counterattacked across the Volga, turning the tables on the Germans to begin one of the most pitiful sagas in Western history.

The more famous siege of the Germans, concluding on February 2, 1943, has dominated the literature of Stalingrad. This book reminds us that the greater time-line of the battle consisted of the Russians besieged, and just barely holding on.

REVIEWS

“Of all the books written about Stalingrad, there have not been many like this one. . . . Michael Jones probes the minds of men at the edge of the abyss, digging into the psychological factors that allowed them to withstand hopeless odds and untold horrors, and still emerge victorious.”
—STONE & STONE
"...a very valuable piece of work that helps to reveal a more accurate view of the fighting on the Eastern Front"
History of War

“…outstanding new book…important for two reasons: it provides a previously too-often ignored Soviet point of view of t he battle; and the compelling eyewitness testimonies of the Red Army Veterans who fought it cuts through much of the Communist era mythmaking about how the battle actually unfolded…compelling reading…”
Armchair General

“…a compelling Military history and analysis that lives up to its title…one of a kind testimony grounded in the words of the people who witnessed history itself.”
The Wisconsin Book Watch 12/2007

“Although the epic quality of the battle has attracted many historians…, Jones' contribution is special for two reasons. First, he seems to have been able to dig deeper into the Soviet archives than previous authors, and he got some extraordinary testimony from survivors. Second, he addresses the core question of just what it was that motivated these men to keep on fighting, given the low probability of survival and the terrible conditions. The order to hold every position until death was well known, but Jones demolishes the notion that the soldiers fought solely under duress. …compelling and moving.”
Foreign Affairs, March/ April 2008

"... compelling, draws us into a vivid, illuminating account of how much of a "near run thing" the legendary Red Army victory was..."
World War II Magazine, 04/2008

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Editorial Reviews

History of War
…a very valuable piece of work that helps to reveal a more accurate view of the fighting on the Eastern Front.
The Wisconsin Book Watch
. . . a compelling Military history and analysis that lives up to its title . . . one of a kind testimony grounded in the words of the people who witnessed history itself.
—J. Cox
Armchair General
. . . outstanding new book . . . important for two reasons: it provides a previously too-often ignored Soviet point of view of t he battle; and the compelling eyewitness testimonies of the Red Army Veterans who fought it cuts through much of the Communist era mythmaking about how the battle actually unfolded . . . compelling reading...
—Colonel, ret. J. Morelock
Second World War Books STONE & STONEs STONE & STONE
Of all the books written about Stalingrad, there have not been many like this one. . . . Michael Jones probes the minds of men at the edge of the abyss, digging into the psychological factors that allowed them to withstand hopeless odds and untold horrors, and still emerge victorious.
Foreign Affairs
Although the epic quality of the battle has attracted many historians . . . , Jones' contribution is special for two reasons. First, he seems to have been able to dig deeper into the Soviet archives than previous authors, and he got some extraordinary testimony from survivors. Second, he addresses the core question of just what it was that motivated these men to keep on fighting, given the low probability of survival and the terrible conditions. The order to hold every position until death was well known, but Jones demolishes the notion that the soldiers fought solely under duress. . . . compelling and moving.
World War II Magazine
... compelling, draws us into a vivid, illuminating account of how much of a near run thing" the legendary Red Army victory was . . .
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932033724
  • Publisher: Casemate Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/26/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 900,986
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents


Preface     xi
Foreword   David M. Glantz     xv
List of Plates     xix
A Note on the Illustrations     xxii
Maps and Documents     xxiii
Timeline     xxx
Introduction: The Last of the Mohicans     1
Veteran Testimony     2
How the Battle was Seen by Others     5
Stalingrad: A Brief Overview     6
Tactical Innovation     9
The Psychological Dimension     11
Anatoly Mereshko - a Key Witness     12
Leadership - the Vital Factor     14
Morale and Motivation     15
A Daunting Opponent     17
Not a Step Back!     19
The German Plan     20
The Russian Experience     23
The Battle on the Don     27
Professionalism     30
Logistics     32
Communications     34
Army unity     36
Battle memory     37
Ineffective Leadership - the Story of the Bear Catcher     38
The 'Not a Step Back!' Order     41
Stalin's City     45
Stalin's Railway     46
The Vulnerability of the City     48
The Defence Lines     50
'Inner Defence'     52
The Terror Raid     56
Mass Panic     59
The Orlovka Salient     61
Gorokhov's Northern Group     63
Lion on the Volga     64
Time is Blood     65
Leadership and the 62nd Army     67
A Crucial Confrontation     70
'A Son of the Century': Military Career of Vasily Chuikov     72
The Achilles Heel     82
Toughness in command     83
A distrust of blueprints     85
The ordinary soldier is closest in my thoughts     88
Leadership from the front     90
Chuikov and Krylov: A Vital Partnership     92
The Rival Commanders: Chuikov and Paulus     94
The First Crisis     96
Alexander Rodimtsev: The Importance of Divisional Command     98
The 62nd Army and the NKVD     101
The German Breakthrough     103
Rodimtsev's 13th Guards - What Really Happened     106
The Race for the Ferry Point     110
The Preparation of the Troops     111
The Crossing     112
Courage Born of Desperation. The September Battles      116
The Grain Elevator     117
The Central Railway Station     121
Storming the Mamaev Kurgan     127
September Snapshots     131
The Day of Death     135
The German Night Attack     143
Pavlov's House     145
The Emergence of Storm Groups     146
The Commander     152
The Fifty-Eight Days     152
The Garrison     153
The House's Name     153
Strongpoints     156
Everyday Life     159
Communal Singing     160
A Tale of Two Pavlovs     161
Mikhail Panikakha Anatomy of a Heroic Deed     163
The Battle Situation     164
Tank Fright     167
A Broken Chain of Command     169
The Impact of Smekhotvorov's Leadership     172
The Last Hours of Mikhail Panikakha     173
The Inspiration     174
The Birth of 'Sniperism'     176
'My First Ten'     177
Letters Home     179
Opening an Account 'of Revenge'     180
Chuikov's Decision     181
Hunting the Enemy     183
The Communist Version of the Battle      184
Zaitsev's Duel     185
The Turning Point     188
Defending the Orlovka Salient     189
The Balance of Forces     194
Zholudev's Redoubt     197
The Onslaught     201
The Council of War     208
The Day of Decision     214
There is No Land for us Beyond the Volga     219
An Army of Mass Heroism     223
In the Main Line of Attack     223
Camaraderie     227
Rituals     233
A Village on the Volga     235
The Loss of the 62nd Crossing     236
How Steel is Formed     238
The Victory Parade     241
Lyudnikov's Island     243
Bullet-Proof Batyuk     244
The German Surrender     245
Conclusion: The Mamaev Kurgan     248
Mist Over the Volga     250
62nd Army Order of Battle - 1 November 1942     251
List of Veterans     252
Further Veteran Testimony     257
Russian Ministry of Defence Archive, Podolsk     258
Corresponding German Material     258
Notes     259
Further Reading      264
Index     265
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Useful account of the battle that saved the world

    Michael K. Jones, an experienced writer on battles, has written a fine account of Stalingrad, the battle that saved the world. It is based on eyewitness testimony, interviews with veterans of the battle, and the 62nd Army's war diary and combat journals.

    Stalin's directive number 227, issued on 28 July 1942, said, "Every commander, soldier and political worker must understand that our resources are not unlimited . To retreat further would mean the ruin of our country and ourselves. Every new scrap of territory we lose will significantly strengthen the enemy and severely weaken our defence of our Motherland. . Not a Step Back! This must now be our chief slogan. We must defend to the last drop every position, every metre of Soviet territory, to cling to every shred of Soviet earth and defend it to the utmost."

    Lieutenant Anatoly Mereshko, a key member of 62nd Army's HQ staff, said, "Order 227 played a vital part in the battle. It opened the eyes of the army and the people, and showed them the truth of the situation facing the country. It led to the famous slogan at Stalingrad: 'There is no land for us beyond the Volga.' We were no longer just fighting for a city. It inspired us to fight for every metre of ground, every bush and river, each little piece of land. Order 227 brought an incredible ferocity to our defence of Stalingrad."

    Machine gunner Mikhail Kalinykov said, "To be honest with you, there was considerable uncertainty about the fate of the city - whether we could hold it or not. And yet, after Order 227, we felt that we had to hold out at Stalingrad regardless of that uncertainty - somehow, we had to make our stand there. You see, the soil was now precious to us, and we had to defend every metre of it. It was our promise to the Motherland."

    As against Anthony Beevor's vicious lies (in his book Stalingrad) about 62nd Army's commander, Lieutenant-General Vasily Chuikov, Jones shows the qualities of Chuikov's leadership - his toughness in command, his distrust of blueprints, his democratic method of work, his trust in the ordinary soldier, his listening to his soldiers, his leadership by example, his courage (his HQ was always in or near the frontline), his decisiveness, his clear and direct orders, his high demands on both himself and his soldiers, and his ability to motivate his troops. Interestingly, Jones claims that on 14 October 1942 Khrushchev briefly sacked Chuikov. Stalin reinstated him at once.

    The Nazi lie was that the Soviet Union won only because of its greater numbers of men and munitions. At Stalingrad the opposite was the case. The Red Army was hugely outnumbered and outgunned and the Nazis also had total command of the air. Yet the Nazis lost - because the Red Army had a better strategy, better tactics (especially in street-fighting) and higher morale.

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    Posted May 8, 2010

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