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The encirclement of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad in mid-November 1942 and its final collapse in February 1943 was a signature defeat for Hitler, as more than 100,000 of his soldiers were marched off into captivity. Frank Ellis tackles this oft-told tale from the unique perspective of the German officers and men trapped inside the Red Army's ever-closing ring of forces. This approach makes palpable the growing desperation of an army that began its campaign confident of victory but that long before the end could see how hopeless their situation had become.
Highlighting these pages are three previously unpublished German army division accounts, translated here for the first time by Ellis. Each of these translations follows the combat experiences of a specific division—the 76th Infantry, the 94th Infantry, and the 16th Panzer—and take readers into the cauldron (or Kessel) that was Stalingrad. Together they provide a ground-level view of the horrific fighting and yield insights into everything from tactics and weapons to internal disputes, the debilitating effects of extreme cold and hunger, and the Germans' astonishing sense of duty and the abilities of their junior leaders.
Along with these first-hand accounts, Ellis himself takes a new and closer look at a number of fascinating but somewhat neglected or misunderstood aspects of the Stalingrad cauldron including sniping, desertion, spying, and the fate of German prisoners. His coverage of sniping is especially notable for new insights concerning the duel that allegedly took place between Soviet sniper Vasilii Zaitsev and a German sniper, Major Konings, a story told in the film Enemy at the Gates (2001). Ellis also includes an incisive reading of Oberst Arthur Boje's published account of his capture, interrogation, and conviction for war crimes, and explores the theme of reconciliation in the works of two Stalingrad veterans, Kurt Reuber and Vasilii Grossman.
Rich in anecdotal detail and revealing moments, Ellis's historical mosaic showcases an army that managed to display a vital resilience and professionalism in the face of inevitable defeat brought on by its leaders. It makes for compelling reading for anyone interested in one of the Eastern Front's monumental battles.
Table of Contents
1. The Battle of Stalingrad in Post-Cold War Perspective
2. 16th Panzer Division inside Fortress Stalingrad
3. "And There Are No Pages That Tell of These Heroic Deeds": 94th Infantry Division
4. Eternal Glory: the End of 76th Berlin-Brandenburg Infantry Division War Diary of 76th Infantry Division: Introduction
5. K-8 vs. Mosin M 1891/1930: German and Soviet Snipers at Stalingrad and on the Eastern Front
6. German Recruitment of Soviet National Minorities, Deserters, and Prisoners on the Eastern Front and in Stalingrad
7. Behind the German and Soviet Lines: Espionage and Counterespionage at Stalingrad
8. The Aftermath of Defeat: German Prisoners of War in the Soviet Camps
9. Return from the House of the Dead: The Arrest, Interrogation, and Repatriation of Oberst Boje (44th Infantry Division)
Appendix A: Finnish Experience in the Training Snipers
Appendix B: Translation of Chapter 18 ("The Duel") of Vasilii Zaitsev's Memoir
Appendix C: Memorandum of the Deputy of the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR General Lieutenant A. N. Apollonov to the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR, L. P. Beria, Concerning the Impossibility of Allocating Snipers from NKVD personnel for Bringing Up to Strength the Sniper Subunits, Units, and Formations of the Red Army
Appendix D: Vasilii Grossman, Glazami Chekhova (Through Chekhov's eyes), 16 November 1942, Stalingrad Front
Appendix E: Combat and Ration Strengths of 24th Panzer Division, 1 January 1943
Appendix F: Glossary of German Ranks