Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege 1942-1943

Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege 1942-1943

4.4 67
by Antony Beevor
     
 

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The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II: it also changed the face of modern warfare

Beevor's latest book Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge is now available from Viking Books 

Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor's magisterial Stalingrad as the

Overview

The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II: it also changed the face of modern warfare

Beevor's latest book Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge is now available from Viking Books 

Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor's magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II's most harrowing battle.

In August 1942, Hitler's huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin's name. In the five-month siege that followed, the Russians fought to hold Stalingrad at any cost; then, in an astonishing reversal, encircled and trapped their Nazi enemy. This battle for the ruins of a city cost more than a million lives. Stalingrad conveys the experience of soldiers on both sides, fighting in inhuman conditions, and of civilians trapped on an urban battlefield. Antony Beevor has itnerviewed survivors and discovered completely new material in a wide range of German and Soviet archives, including prisoner interrogations and reports of desertions and executions. As a story of cruelty, courage, and human suffering, Stalingrad is unprecedented and unforgettable.

Editorial Reviews

Richard Bernstein
A fantastic and sobering story...fully and authoritatively told.
The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140284584
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/1999
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
74,055
Product dimensions:
8.34(w) x 10.90(h) x 1.11(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

The silence that fell on 2 February in the ruined city felt eerie for those who had been used to destruction as a natural state. Grossman described mounds of rubble and bomb craters so deep that the low angled winter sunlight never seemed to reach the bottom, and 'railway tracks, where tanker wagons lie belly up, like dead horses.'

Some 3,500 civilians were put to work as burial parties. They stacked frozen German corpses like piles of timber at the roadside, and although they had a few carts drawn by camels, most of the removal work was accomplished with improvised sleds and handcarts. The German dead were taken to bunkers, or the huge anti-tank ditch, dug the previous summer, and tipped in. Later, 1,200 German prisoners were put to work on the same task, using carts, with humans instead of horses pulling them. 'Almost all members of these work parties,' reported a prisoner of war, 'soon died of typhus.' Others, 'dozens each day' according to an NKVD officer in Beketovka camp - were shot on the way to work by their escorts.

The grisly evidence of the fighting did not disappear swiftly. After the Volga thawed in spring, lumps of coagulated blackened skin were found on the river bank. General de Gaulle, when he stopped in his Stalingrad on his way north to Moscow in December 1944, was struck to find that bodies were still being dug up, but this was to continue for several decades. Almost any building work in the city uncovered human remains from the battle.

More astonishing than the number of dead was the capacity for human survival. The Stalingrad Party Committee held meetings in all districts 'liberated from Fascist occupation', and rapidly organized a census. They found that at least 9,976 civilians had lived through the fighting, surviving in the battlefield ruins. They included 994 children, of whom only nine were reunited with their parents. The vast majority were sent off to state orphanages or given work clearing the city. The report says nothing of their physical or mental state, witnessed by an American aid worker, who arrived very soon after the fighting to distribute clothes. 'Most of the children', she wrote, 'had been living in the ground for four or five winter months. They were swollen with hunger. They cringed in corners, afraid to speak, to even look people in the face.'

The Stalingrad Party Committee had higher priorities. 'Soviet authorities were immediately reinstalled in all districts of the city', it reported to Moscow. On 4 February, Red Army Commissars held a political rally for 'the whole city', both civilian survivors and soldiers. This assembly, with its long speeches in praise of Comrade Stalin and his leadership of the Red Army, was the Party's version of a service of thanksgiving.

The authorities did not at first allow civilians who had escaped to the East Bank to return to their homes, because of the need to clear unexploded shells. Mine-clearance teams had to prepare a basic pattern of 'special safe paths'. But many soon managed to slip back over the frozen Volga without permission. Messages appeared chalked on the side of ruined buildings, testifying to the numbers of families broken up by the fighting: Mama, we are all right. Look for us in Beketovka. Klava.' Many people never discovered which of their relatives were alive or dead until after the war was over.

What People are saying about this

John Keegan
Magnificent...certainly the best narrative of the battle yet to appear and...not likely to be surpassed in our time.

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Stalingrad, The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stalingrad. The very name itself has become a symbol for that fatal desperate struggle between Hitler and Stalin, between Fascism and Communism. Fought with a fanaticism, intensity, and determination unmatched throughout the entire war, Stalingrad would go down in history as the ultimate cataclysmic showdown of World War II. Anthony Beevor, the author, has done an outstanding job in writing about this dramatic battle. Beevor starts off by reviewing the war's progress up to mid-1942, with Germany's failed bid to win the war in 1941. Beevor makes the case that this was due to Hitler's dilatoriness in striking out to capture the Soviet capital, the single most important communications junction and command center in the entire USSR. By the time the Wehrmacht had re-deployed from its hugely successful encirclement battles in that late summer, it was already too late to deliver the coup de grace. And with that Germany unexpectedly found itself engaged in a war of attrition it was bound to lose. Operation Blue was conceived to capture the Caucasus oilfields. If successful, the plan would at a stroke ensure Germany's critical oil supplies while simultaneously denying them to the Soviets. In addition, it would further divide and weaken Soviet forces. The plan had the additional advantage of attacking over clear, open terrain with longer campaigning weather available - just exactly the type of terrain where the Wehrmacht was at its greatest advantage. Unfortunately for the Germans, these significant advantages were totally thrown away by Hitler's premature dissipation of force (sending Army Group A south before Stalingrad fell), dangerous reliance on under-equipped and poorly led Romanian allies to provide flank security, and insistence on a grinding, frontal attack to capture Stalingrad. Hitler's hubris in underestimating the determination and rapidly increasing skill of the Red Army would have fateful consequences for the entire campaign against the USSR. As the Germans battered their way into the outskirts of Stalingrad and into a fortress of twisted steel and concrete in August 1942, the battle rapidly metamorphosed from large, coordinated attacks into small-scale assaults. The Soviet defenders came into their own as they bitterly contested and then counter-attacked every German assault. Days passed, then weeks, and finally months, but still the Red Army soldiers fought on and on, exhausting and weakening the Sixth Army. And then in late November with Operation Uranus, the Soviets launched a counter-offensive of their own, swiftly encircling Sixth Army. Subsequent Red Army assaults to cut off nearly all of Army Group South led to Manstein's cutting short his drive to relieve the Stalingrad pocket. Although surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, 6th Army fought on and on beyond human endurance. After more than two months' starvation, horrendous frostbite casualties, relentless shelling, and near complete expenditure of ammunition the Sixth Army finally laid down its arms. The Soviets had won a great triumph! From then on, it would be the Soviets who would be on a near continuous advance to Berlin. Besides recounting all these fateful events, Beevor also provides revealing accounts about the key personalities of these battles, including Hitler, Stalin, Paulus, Chuikov, Schmidt, and Manstein. Also included are several photos and maps. The book reads a lot like a novel with the narrative often switching between locations and people. Beevor does great justice in describing the greatest battle of World War II. An outstanding book!
ChrisWillBeReading More than 1 year ago
...this book did an outstanding job of balancing the gritty horror of room to room fighting in bombed out factories with the quiet insanity of two dictators pushing markers around a map. It is an good overview of the events and decisions leading up to the battle of Stalingrad, the battle itself, and the repercussions. Because it covers so much ground, the book raised some questions in this readers mind. Stalingrad, The Fateful Siege got me interested enough about the Russian front to buy two more books about it, and I have a fourth picked out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was one of the readers who left a less-than-complimentary review of Beevor's Fall of Berlin. So, in fairness I'm compelled to say that Stalingrad is so far superior to Berlin as to make one wonder if they were really written by the same person. Unlike the personal pontificating and uneven treatment that characterize Fall of Berlin, this work provides a gripping narrative of one of the most dreadful battles in history. I could not help feeling an immense sadness over the thousands of young men sent so cavalierly to their untimely deaths. Even worse were the accounts of the unfortunate civilians who remained in Stalingrad during the battle. The book is poignant, engaging, and well worth a look.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stalingrad. The very name itself has become a symbol for that fatal desperate struggle between Hitler and Stalin, between Fascism and Communism. Fought with a fanaticism, intensity, and determination unmatched throughout the entire war, Stalingrad would go down in history as the ultimate cataclysmic showdown of World War II. Anthony Beevor, the author, has done an outstanding job in writing about this dramatic battle. Beevor starts off by reviewing the war's progress up to mid-1942, with Germany's failed bid to win the war in 1941. Beevor makes the case that this was due to Hitler's dilatoriness in striking out to capture the Soviet capital, the single most important communications junction and command center in the entire USSR. By the time the Wehrmacht had re-deployed from its hugely successful encirclement battles in that late summer, it was already too late to deliver the coup de grace. And with that Germany unexpectedly found itself engaged in a war of attrition it was bound to lose. Operation Blue was conceived to capture the Caucasus oilfields. If successful, the plan would at a stroke ensure Germany's critical oil supplies while simultaneously denying them to the Soviets. In addition, it would further divide and weaken Soviet forces. The plan had the additional advantage of attacking over clear, open terrain with longer campaigning weather available - just exactly the type of terrain where the Wehrmacht was at its greatest advantage. Unfortunately for the Germans, these significant advantages were totally thrown away by Hitler's premature dissipation of force (sending Army Group A south before Stalingrad fell), dangerous reliance on under-equipped and poorly led Romanian allies to provide flank security, and insistence on a grinding, frontal attack to capture Stalingrad. Hitler's hubris in underestimating the determination and rapidly increasing skill of the Red Army would have fateful consequences for the entire campaign against the USSR. As the Germans battered their way into the outskirts of Stalingrad and into a fortress of twisted steel and concrete in August 1942, the battle rapidly metamorphosed from large, coordinated attacks into small-scale assaults. The Soviet defenders came into their own as they bitterly contested and then counter-attacked every German assault. Days passed, then weeks, and finally months, but still the Red Army soldiers fought on and on, exhausting and weakening the Sixth Army. And then in late November with Operation Uranus, the Soviets launched a counter-offensive of their own, swiftly encircling Sixth Army. Subsequent Red Army assaults to cut off nearly all of Army Group South led to Manstein's cutting short his drive to relieve the Stalingrad pocket. Although surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, 6th Army fought on and on beyond human endurance. After more than two months' starvation, horrendous frostbite casualties, relentless shelling, and near complete expenditure of ammunition the Sixth Army finally laid down its arms. The Soviets had won a great triumph! From then on, it would be the Soviets who would be on a near continuous advance to Berlin. Besides recounting all these fateful events, Beevor also provides revealing accounts about the key personalities of these battles, including Hitler, Stalin, Paulus, Chuikov, Schmidt, and Manstein. Also included are several photos and maps. The book reads a lot like a novel with the narrative often switching between locations and people. Beevor does great justice in describing the greatest battle of World War II. An outstanding book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
By far one of the better books about the Eastern Front, Stalingrad is sure to please even the most well read student of World War II literature. Beevor's use of previously unknown documents, interviews with survivors, and gut-wrenching factual evidence from KGB files molds this well crafted tale into a work of art. Beevor's willingness to probe into the actions and behaviors of the Nazis and Soviets alike is truly a breath of fresh air in a world of one sided historical works. A must read for any hard core student of the Nazi-Soviet War. Excellent illustrations and wonderful footnotes to other sources of historical texts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Stalingrad' gives an excellent account of what happened in the war. It has some pretty good descriptions of what happened to the civilian population and the German and Russian soldiers. It also explains how the Russains were beaten all the way to the city of Stalingrad, and then pushed the Germans out. It is an excellent book for anyone who is wanting to learn about the subject, and I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am not a fan of war history in general and I bought this book on a whim. I'm glad I did as it is one of the most exciting and harrowing books I've read (non-fiction and fiction included). The description of the 6th Army's Last Christmas is particularly moving. Makes you realise that barbaric conduct in war did not start in the Balkans or Rwanda in the 1990's.
Cary_K 12 months ago
This piece was very concise and yet maintained a very easy to read flow while providing the reader with a great number of facts. The author did a fantastic job in his descriptions, making it very hard to put it down some nights. A very deep, easy to understand dive into the events the led up to and ended the battle for Stalingrad.
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