Documentary Stalingrad, part I

-Excerpt from the situation report N198 of the Red Army General Staff for 8:00, 17.07.1942

"On July 16, troops of the Stalingrad front took up their positions, fortified them and partially regrouped. There were minor skirmishes with small groups of enemy that were supposedly on reconnaissance missions. 63rd Army continued to defend and fortify its positions. 153rd Infantry Division repelled enemy reconnaissance group that consisted of around a company of personnel and 13 tanks at the line height 191 (5 km to South-West from settlement Kazanskaya) - Stogovsky. The fight along this line continues".

"During air battles, we brought down 3 planes, damaged 7 and destroyed 1 grounded plane. Our losses are 1 plane, and 10 more planes didn't return to their airfields".

From the journal of Wehrmacht General Staff, situation report on July 17.

Eastern front. Group of Armies B. 6th Army. Our forces are advancing to the East according to the plan. At the foothold Korotoyak we managed to repel all enemy attacks. We have spotted arriving enemy reinforcements. Since July 15, we destroyed 15 enemy tanks. The weather is clear and very hot". From the record of telephone conversation of Stalin with the command of the Stalingrad Front, July 23.

"STALIN: ...I demand that the defense line to the west of Don, from settlement Kletskaya to Rozhkovsky and Nizhne-Kalinovka should stay in our hands at any cost. All enemy that breaches this line must be neutralized at all costs. You've got enough forces for that, so don't make a step back. I insist that you don't count any casualties and hold this line. That's all. Any questions? GORDOV: Everything is clear. Executing immediately.

STALIN: Please comrade Gordov, send short situation reports over radio or by phone every 3-4 hours to the General Headquarters.

GORDOV: We have just received a report from Kolpakchi that around 50 enemy tanks breached our defense in the direction Kalmykov-Manoilin and through the collective farm Kopanya in the direction of collective farm Pervomajsky. We are going to investigate the situation and report as soon as it's settled.

STALIN: What is it, we ran out of tanks on the right flank? Where's our aviation? It's shame to retreat in sight of 50 tanks, when you've got 900 under your command". Commander of the front and 7th Separate Army Vasilevsky.

"Our combat experience shows that control of troops in Red Army is still unacceptable. Unfortunately, I have to note that main means of communication in the army remains the copper-wire telephone. Commanders are able to control their personnel until the wire is intact. When it's disrupted, all control is lost..." Fragment of the letter from Germany, by Elizabeth Schwanzer (Breslau) to unter-officer Fritz Dellach, field post-office N31672 located near Stalingrad:

"...As I understood from your previous letter, things are good for you now: you just go and take milk or something else you need. We cannot afford that here. I wish things would be so easy for you so forth".

Parents from Germany write to their son Gelmut:

"Dear Gelmut, we bought a map of Russia. Stalingrad is very far below there. If you want to get to Moscow from down there, it would be quite a trip. Just give up and return home. This war won't be easy, it's too much misery for all of us. We don't believe the world will ever be the same ". Excerpt from the diary of private from mechanized infantry regiment of the 16th Tank Division Alfred Rimmer (field post-office N02051):

"July 17. We departed at 6 and advanced at around 170 km. The road by which Russians retreated clearly shows that they were running without a backward glance. They were in such a wild rush that they dumped everything that could hinder them: machineguns, mine throwers and even an infernal machine with 16 10-cm caliber missiles that works alike our M-7-B bombs. "July 19. This day I will never forget: we went on a recon mission to some village. We were looking forward to "organize" something. Suddenly we ran across the land mine, explosion, moaning. Then we saw Russian soldiers running from the village, trying to outflank us. Happily, someone in our campaign noticed that and saved us away from there. We had to leave all our equipment to run away from the encirclement. Later that day, we were attacked by 12 tanks, 8 of which were destroyed by AA artillery , 4 by AT artillery.

July 24. After dinner, we went on assault on the village, capture 200 POWs and destroyed 2 AT-guns. Russian battalion commander shot himself. Two trucks full of soldiers tried to cross the village at full speed. Wild shoot-out, everyone is dead.

July 26. It's hard to imagine how we are afraid of Russian airplanes. As soon as we spot it, everyone runs for the trenches or just hide where possible. Once we saw 10 bombers hunted by two our Me-109s. Within several minutes, five Russian planes were downed, then the rest of them also went down. 6 pilots descended on parachutes. Russian officer told us they departed from Stalingrad, but had to return to another airport so that other pilots won't see how many of them left".

  • Intelligence summary N7 by IV Department of the NKVD "On the situation at occupied regions"

"Germans are enforcing terror and at the occupied regions, they deride civilians. At settlements Pronin, located in Perelazovsky region, they executed 67 y.o. head of collective farm "Krasny Mak" Priahin Vassiliy and his wife Anna Priahina, director of the local playground. Worker of the Pronin machine and tractor station Kirov Sergey, 30 y.o. private of the fighter battalion was captured during his mission and shot. Before death, he shouted "I will die for the motherland and Stalin, I will be avenged!". Local population is hostile towards the occupants. Even those who previously accepted Germans with kind are now changing their minds. Anti-soviet resident of the settlement located in Dubovsky region, Anna Ganzhina, said to our informer "Soviet power was far better than these Herods, the Germans".

  • Excerpt from staff report to special department of NKVD "On shortcomings during combat in 23rd Tank Corps. , July 1-10, 1942.

"On July 1st, 6th and 114th Tank Brigades commenced assault without information on the number of enemy forces and without proper interaction with infantry, artillery and aviation. As a result, our tanks were ambushed and encountered heavy artillery fire, supported by attacks from the air. This led to a disorganization of our formations. During only two days of battle, Corps. lost 30 tanks and had to retreat to the eastern bank of river Oskol. Thus our mission - to stop enemy by means of 23rd Corps, - was failed due to incompetence shown by the commander of 28th Army Lieutenant Gen. Ryabyshev and member of the military council brigade commissar Popel. Meanwhile, enemy managed to cross river Oskol and advance to the east". "Popel, rather than taking necessary measures, took his map and said: "I have infantry of the 13 Guards Rifle Division standing on defense. You don't know anything. Go and don't create panic." By December 3 night, enemy machinegunners managed to cross river Oskol and take village Koloskovo, since we had no infantry to prevent that. Our tanks that were standing in Koloskovo, had to chase every single machinegunner to dislodge them from the village".

"There's also another serious problem. Commander of the 23rd Tank Corps. Colonel Hasin has completely lost his authority due to the extremely im ÓÐÅÃÓÏÏÂÝÅÎÉÅ polite behaviour towards officers. He threatens them with demotions and executions. His influence is very negative. On December 7, 1942 he drove executive officer of the Corps. HQ colonel Volkonsky to such a condition that he was ready to shoot himself. He also demotes personnel for no reason, for example, intendant captain Kamedin and others".

  • Report from 62nd Army to special department of NKVD "On mail cover check in Red Army".

Pirvate Bogolubov from separate communications battalion writes: "We have been honored to fight at the place where Stalin and Voroshilov fought. We are sure that our enemy will suffer bitter defeat, just like at the battle of Moscow. We are ready to die in the bed of honour. We won't let enemy make another step forward." - Excerpt from report to special department of NKVD "On anti-soviet and defeatist attitude of the personnel of 21st Army":

"Clerk of the 538 regiment Kolesnikov, in the company of Red Army soldiers, said the following on 20.7.1942: "German army is more intelligent and capable. Look at their equipment. And what do we have? Some ancient airplanes... Our press is lying to us. Newspapers say we are defeating Germans, but it's not so". The documents are being prepared to arrest Kolesnikov. From a letter by private Chechkov Ivan: "... We went into assault. On the first day, everything went smooth, but then enemy surrounded us and started bombardments. They deployed paratroopers ahead, and everything around us was on fire. There was nowhere to go. We waited for evening, but they spotted us and started to drop bombs right over river Don. Many of our soldiers were killed, many of them sunk. Those who didn’t make it across Don, were captured. Germans also took lots of cattle that was left on another bank. They say that it's not Don where Russians will suffer most, it's the Volga. Germans promise to drown us all in Volga. We are not afraid, though, we must cross it".

My dear wife Katya, my dear children. I know it's hard to stay alive here, it seems we are all dead anyway. We are standing on the bank, there's nowhere to go. We will either drowned or killed or taken prisoners. It will be a slaughter here in Stalingrad.

I think Germans will take you prisoners, but don't leave, stay at home. Dig trenches and hide there with other families. Don't wait for my return, I'm likely to get killed here, the battles are intense".