Chapter XIX
From The Don To The Volga

No Enemy West of Stalingrad

Fourth Panzer Army turned northeast from Tsimlyanskiy and Remontnaya on 1 August. In another two days, after having captured several loaded Soviet troop trains near Kotelnikovo, the advance detachments of General Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army were on the Aksay River sixty miles southeast of Stalingrad. There they met Stalingrad Front's South Group that was being formed by General Chuikov, acting commander of Sixty fourth Army, out of units from his army and some reserve divisions.1 (Map 33.)

Sixth Army, under General Paulus, while waiting for its motor fuel and ammunition stocks to be replenished, was getting Headquarters, XI Corps, which had been held at Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy with two infantry divisions as the OKH reserve. On the 4th, when his mobile units had enough fuel to go about thirty miles, Paulus ordered the attack on the Kalach bridgehead to start on the 8th. The next day the OKH asked to have the attack start at least a day earlier because Hitler was worried that the Soviet troops would escape across the Don if Paulus waited longer.2

On the night of 1 August, General Eremenko was called to the Kremlin from the hospital where he had been since February when he had been wounded while commanding Fourth Shock Army. After ascertaining that he was ready to return to duty, Stalin told Eremenko that Stalingrad Front was being divided into two fronts, Stalingrad and Southeast, and he was the State Defense Committee's choice for command of one of them. In studying the situation in the Don-Volga area at the General Staff the next day, Eremenko learned that the boundary between the fronts was laid from Kalach to the line of the Tsaritsa River, which flowed east through Stalingrad at about the center of the city. That night, at the Kremlin, Eremenko suggested it might have been better to assign the entire city to one front or the other, but Stalin and General Vasilevskiy, chief of the General Staff, told him the attacks would be coming from the north and the south, and Eremenko sensed they were not disposed to reconsider the decision. During the interview, Stalin gave Eremenko command of Southeast Front, which would take over the sector from the Tsaritsa south.3

The realignment took effect on 5


Map 33
The Advance to Stalingrad
31 July-3 September 1942

August. General Gordov kept Stalingrad Front and Sixty-third, Twenty-first, Sixty-second, and Fourth Tank Armies. Eremenko acquired Sixty-fourth, Fifty-seventh, and Fifty-first Armies plus First Guards Army, which was being brought out of the Stavka reserve. First Tank Army was disbanded. Its staff became the nucleus for the staff of Southeast Front, and what was left of its troops was incorporated into Sixty-second Army.4 The headquarters of both fronts were situated in Stalingrad.


In the Don Bend

From the northeast and southwest, tight against the river, XIV and XXIV Panzer Corps struck into the Kalach bridgehead on the morning of 7 August. Their points had contact by late afternoon, and they had trapped the main body of Sixty-second Army. Together with the infantry of LI Corps, the two panzer corps cleaned out the pocket in four more days, eventually tallying nearly fifty thousand prisoners.5

At Kalach, Sixth Army was on the most direct route to Stalingrad, the one it had originally intended to take, but several considerations now spoke against using it. For one, the terrain between Kalach and Stalingrad was crisscrossed by balkas, deep gullies that often forced tanks into lengthy detours and could be used as trenches by the defense. Also, since Fourth Panzer Army was on the Aksay and had bridgeheads across it, the envelopment formed by a thrust due east from Kalach was likely to be shallow. Moreover, Fourth Tank and Twenty-first Armies were still holding a bridgehead line from Kletskaya to Peskovatka across the northeastern loop of the Don bend. To keep the Russians confined there, Paulus reckoned, would take more troops than would be needed to hold them on the river, and the terrain north of Peskovatka appeared to afford a somewhat better--and about five miles shorter--approach to Stalingrad. On the 11th, Paulus ordered XIV and XXIV Panzer Corps to shift north, clean out the "northeast corner" of the Don bend, and get bridgeheads there for the advance to Stalingrad.6

The loss of the Kalach bridgehead brought the close-in defense of Stalingrad nearer to actuality on the Soviet side, and the Stavka was putting in more of its reserves, fifteen rifle divisions and three tank corps between 1 and 20 August. On the 9th, Vasilevskiy talked to Eremenko from Moscow and told him Stalin had decided to put Stalingrad and Southeast Fronts under Eremenko. He would have Gordov as his deputy for Stalingrad Front and General Golikov, the commander of Tenth Army, as deputy for Southeast Front, and General Moskalenko, who had been his deputy for the past several days, would take command of First Guards Army. NKVD Colonel A. A. Sarayev, who was bringing the 10th NKVD Division, would take command of the Stalingrad city defenses. While Eremenko's appointment ended the division of the city between two independent commands, it was, Eremenko has said, "an extremely heavy burden" to have to conduct operations through 2 deputies, 2 chiefs of staff, and 2 staffs.7

Eremenko took command on the 10th, with Khrushchev as his political officer for both fronts.8 On the 12th, a high-ranking trio, consisting of Malenkov, secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, as


representative of the State Defense Committee; Vasilevskiy as Stavka representative; and General Leytenant A. A. Novikov, commanding general, air force, as Stavka air representative, arrived in Stalingrad to assist and guide Eremenko.9

While Hoth, who in the meantime had moved his right flank up to Abganerovo Station on the railroad forty miles south of Stalingrad, waited, Paulus began the attack across the Kletskaya-Peskovatka line on the 15th. In two days, XIV and XXIV Panzer Corps cleared the entire loop of the Don, and VIII Corps took two small bridgeheads near Trekhostrovskaya. But complications had also begun to develop. The ground surrounding the bridgeheads proved to be marshy and not good for tanks, and Eremenko, on orders from the Stavka, was rushing First Guards Army to the Don. Moskalenko had the first of his five divisions across the river on the 16th, and by the 18th, he had reestablished a twenty-mile-long bridgehead from Kremenskaya to Sirotinskaya.10

This turn in events gave Paulus the choice of accepting a prolonged contest for the Don, which was undoubtedly just what the Stavka wanted, or making the drive to Stalingrad with his deep left flank exposed. He took the latter, expecting that an imminent threat to Stalingrad would be enough to divert Eremenko's attention from the bridgehead. The decision gave Paulus one almost instant advantage: on the morning of the 21st, LI Corps attacking east across the Don toward Vertyachiy took the Russians completely by surprise and in a few hours carved out a three-by-five-mile bridgehead. By daylight the next morning, the engineers had thrown up two twenty-ton bridges and XIV Panzer Corps' tanks were rolling across.11

For three days past, Fourth Panzer Army had been cutting its way slowly through the Stalingrad outer defense ring north of Abganerovo Station. In a letter to Colonel Heusinger, chief of operations, OKH, on the 19th, Hoth told why:

Here on the border between steppe and desert the troops live and fight under unspeakably difficult conditions. In spite of shimmering heat that does not let up at night, in spite of indescribable dust and lack of rest at night owing to vermin and air raids, in spite of the absence of any kind of shade or ground cover, in spite of scarcity of water and poor health, they are doing their best to carry out their assigned missions.12

The Russians, of course, were no more comfortable. Eremenko says, "The days in Stalingrad were torrid and the nights were stifling."13

The Enemy Three Versts Away

The plan for the last act at Stalingrad had been ready for more than a week. The main effort would fall to Sixth Army. It would strike east past Vertyachiy to the Volga north of Stalingrad and from there send a force south to take the city. Between the rivers, Paulus would send a secondary force southeast to meet Fourth Panzer Army and



to envelop the Soviet forces standing east of the Don.14 Somewhat ambivalently, the Sixth Army final order added:

The Russians will defend the Stalingrad area stubbornly.

In advancing across the Don to Stalingrad, the army will have to reckon with resistance at the front and heavy counterattacks on its north flank.

It is possible that the destructive blows of recent weeks have deprived the Russians of the strength for a decisive resistance.15

The XIV Panzer Corps pushed out of the Vertyachiy bridgehead on the morning of 23 August behind a curtain of bombs laid down by VIII Air Corps. During the day, the planes dropped 1,000 tons of bombs ahead of the panzer corps and on the northern quarter of Stalingrad. In a bit more than twelve hours, the tanks covered thirty-six miles and took a handhold on the Volga north of the city.16 General Weichs, the commander of Army Group B, then ordered Paulus and Hoth to drive for a junction of their forces after which Sixth Army would take Stalingrad.

Hoth thereupon gathered all the strength he could and headed north, but Paulus had a long, exposed new front on his left flank to contend with.


The XIV Panzer Corps had stretched itself very thin on the dash to the Volga. On the 26th, a counterattack carried away three miles of its front between the rivers. In the afternoon, General der Panzertruppen Gustav von Wietersheim, the corps commander, radioed, "It is not possible with present forces to stay on the Volga and hold open communications to the rear. . . . will have to pull back tonight. Request decision." Paulus replied, "Do not retreat," and stopped everything else while he put LI and VIII Corps to work at stretching their lines east to close up with XIV Panzer Corps. Since Fourth Panzer Army had not yet managed to break away on its front, the whole attack appeared to be about to stall.17

The German's sudden appearance on the Volga was a deep shock to the Soviet leadership. On 23 August, the city authorities began evacuating from Stalingrad civilians who were not workers in war industries, and two days later, the Stavka declared a state of siege. During the night on the 23d, the Stavka sent Eremenko the following order:

You have enough strength to annihilate the enemy. Combine the aviation of both fronts and use it to smash the enemy. Set up armored trains and station them on the Stalingrad belt railroad. Use smoke to deceive the enemy. Keep after the enemy not only in the daytime but also at night. Above all, do not give way to panic, do not let the enemy scare you, and keep faith in your own strength.18

On the 26th, Stalin named General Zhukov, the commander of West Front, deputy supreme commander. The next day he recalled Zhukov from West Front, where he had been directing an operation that had been considered as important as any on the south flank, and sent him to Stalingrad with instructions to assemble First Guards, Twenty fourth, and Sixty-sixth Armies for a counterattack from the north to break Sixth Army away from the Volga.19

Zhukov arrived on the scene on the 29th, just in time to witness another blow. During the day, Fourth Panzer Army's XXXXVIII Panzer Corps reached the Karpovka River. The next morning it took a bridgehead at Gavrilovka, thirty miles southwest of Stalingrad. With that, Sixty-second and Sixty-fourth Armies were on the verge of being encircled and had to be withdrawn to the Stalingrad suburbs.20

In the afternoon on the 30th, at Sixth Army's command post, Weichs urged Paulus to strip his fronts east and west of the Don and put everything he could into getting a junction with Hoth. Afterward, Paulus told XIV Panzer Corps and LI Corps to be ready to strike south on short notice regardless of their other troubles. When Fourth Panzer Army made a clean break away from the Karpovka on the 31st, Weichs ordered Paulus and Hoth to seek a junction at Pitomnik due east of Stalingrad, smash the enemy west and south of there between them, and then turn east and drive into the center of the city along the Tsaritsa River.

Events at the turn of the month appeared to substantiate a report attributed



to General Richthofen, the commander of Fourth Air Force, that Stalingrad was virtually undefended. On the afternoon of 2 September, Fourth Panzer Army reported the territory ahead of it clear of enemy as far as Voroponovo Station six miles from the center of the city. Weichs thereupon told Hoth to turn east into Stalingrad without waiting for Sixth Army. On the 3d, VIII Air Corps, recently reinforced with practically all of IV Air Corps' planes from the Caucasus, staged a twenty-four-hour, round-the-clock raid on the city.21 In the early morning hours, Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer Army had made contact at Gonchary, seven miles northwest of Voroponovo. With that both armies were in position to head east, and at the Werwolf the word was, "There is no longer any enemy west of Stalingrad." Hitler issued orders to "eliminate the male inhabitants" and deport the women because the population, in his opinion, was strongly Communist and, hence, a danger.22 During the day on the 4th, Paulus forwarded a plan to the OKH for going into winter quarters. It hardly seemed significant that Sixty-second and Sixty-fourth Armies had avoided an encirclement and fallen back into the city.

To the Soviet Command, as well, it looked like the end was in sight. On the 3d, Stalin cabled to Zhukov:

The situation at Stalingrad has worsened. The enemy is within three versts [a mile and a half of Stalingrad. Stalingrad could be taken today or tomorrow if the northern group of forces does not render immediate support.

Order the troop commanders to the north and northwest of Stalingrad to attack the enemy immediately. . . .23

But Zhukov was not ready and had to wait another day and a half to bring up ammunition for his artillery.24


The City

Stalingrad was nothing special, a regional administrative center in the steppe with some war industry, a population just under half a million, and a hard climate both in summer and winter. (Map 34.) Strung out over some twelve


Map 34
8 September-6 October 1942


GENERAL PAULUS (right) WATCHES THE ATTACK ON STALINGRAD. Behind Him, the Commander of LI Corps, Seydlitz.

miles along the Volga and flanked by suburbs extending several more miles to the north and south, it did not anywhere reach more than two-and-a-half miles inland. Its most prominent physical feature was the 300-foot-high Mamai Hill (shown on maps as Height 102), which was actually a kurgan, an ancient burial mound. The hill divided the city in two. On the south lay the old town, the prerevolutionary Tsaritsin. It, in turn, was bisected by the Tsaritsa River, to the south of which were railroad yards, light industry, grain elevators, and blocks of apartment buildings. North of the river were government buildings, clustered around the Red Square, the main railroad station, the waterworks and power plant, and more blocks of apartment buildings. The railroad ran north between Mamai Hill and an oil refinery and tank farm on the Volga. Ranged along the river north of Mamai Hill were the "Lazur" chemical plant, the Krasny Oktyabr metallurgical works, a bread bakery, the Barrikady gun factory, a brick works, a large tractor plant, and beyond it the suburbs of Spartakovka and Rynok. The plants and factories with their complexes of steel and masonry buildings were bordered on the west by workers' settlements made up mostly of small, tightly packed, unpainted, one-story, wooden houses, a type of structure also to be found in large numbers elsewhere in the city. Since, like other southern Russian rivers, the Volga's right bank is higher than the left, the Stalingrad river front


was a line of cliffs that was in places as much as a thousand feet high.


During the day on 4 September, Sixth Army's LI Corps took Gumrak Station, which put it in position to attack into Stalingrad between Mamai Hill and the Tsaritsa. Fourth Panzer Army was bearing in south of the Tsaritsa along the railroad east of Voroponovo and from the southwest by way of Peschanka. Paulus gave General Seydlitz, the LI Corps commander, another infantry division and told him to attack into Stalingrad the next day.25

At dawn on the 5th, Zhukov was at a First Guards Army observation post opposite the XIV Panzer Corps north front to watch the start of the counterattack. Moskalenko had made one start already on the 2d and then had stopped to wait for Twenty-fourth and Sixty-sixth Armies to get into position on his left and right. General Malinovskiy, who had taken over Sixty-sixth Army after his front was disbanded, had told Moskalenko on the night of the 4th that in the morning he would be starting the attack piecemeal because he still had divisions on the march. The same was as much or more the case with General Kozlov, who commanded Twenty-fourth Army.26 Consequently, the counterattack hinged mainly on First Shock Army, which was the only one of the three that was fully deployed--and the only one to have seen previous action. First Shock Army, however, was not experienced enough to carry the other two along. The artillery and rocket barrages began at 0600, and Zhukov saw that the density of fire was low. The fire the infantry met as it moved out showed him "that we were not to expect any deep penetration of our assault units."27 Sixty-sixth Army joined in at 0900 and Twenty-fourth Army at 1300. By then, Moskalenko's divisions were stopped and being hit by counterattacks.28

Nevertheless, Stalin told Zhukov to try again the next day. The counterattack, he maintained, had already bought some time for Stalingrad.29 Stalin was more right than he knew. At midday, Paulus had canceled the LI Corps attack into Stalingrad and had diverted all of Sixth Army's air support to the north front. The XIV Panzer Corps cleaned up half-a-dozen break-ins and had a tight front again before dark but, in doing so, had incurred "perceptible losses in men and material . . . and a heavy expenditure of ammunition."30

The second day was no better for Zhukov but was somewhat worse for XIV Panzer Corps, because ground fog prevented the planes from giving any help in the morning. In the afternoon Wietersheim called Paulus and told him his front was "strained to the limit." He had to have more infantry, he said, and constant air support, even if it meant putting off the attack into Stalingrad indefinitely, because that could only "be thought of" anyway after the north front was secure. Paulus



replied that he knew Wietersheim's situation "clearly and exactly" but thought differently about how to handle it. "Stalingrad must fall," he said, "to free strength for the north front." The XIV Panzer Corp's mission, Paulus concluded, was to hold out until then.31

The LI Corps attacked at daylight on the 7th and in fourteen hours stretched its line east to Razgulyayevka Station, which put it five miles northeast of Mamai Hill. Seydlitz and his chief of staff went to the army command post the next morning with a proposal to drive into Stalingrad that day or the next, but Paulus now told them they could not. Paulus was not as sure about what to do next as he had been when he talked to Wietersheim two days before, and he said LI Corps had to be kept loose for a while yet. Its next assignment, beginning on the 9th, would be to go northeast and to mop up behind XIV Panzer Corps to Orlovka. He added that for the time being Hoth would not be able to attack into the city either because he was having to turn south to take some of the strain off the infantry on his flank; so the advantage of a coordinated double thrust into the city would be lost anyway.

After a day's pause, the Soviet pressure on XIV Panzer Corps' north front resumed on the 9th as LI Corps began pushing northeast against an enemy who "tenaciously defended every single bunker." Late in the day, Seydlitz reported that the Soviet losses were high but "our own were not inconsequential."32 Hoth's effort to free his flank had a notable success on the morning of the 10th when the 29th Motorized Division got a battalion through to the Volga at the southern Stalingrad suburb of Kuporosnoye. The battalion lost the half mile adjacent to the river again during the night when it was overrun by furious charges from the north and south, and wild melees continued there for four more days.33

The 10th was the darkest day yet for the defense. During the day, Fourth Panzer Army drove a wedge between Sixty-second and Sixty-fourth Armies isolating Sixty-second Army inside the city; and Stalin had to concur in Zhukov's assessment that on the north front, "further attacks with the same troops


and the same dispositions would be useless."34 Moskalenko has pointed out that a tactical success had not been possible at any time because "the front command" underestimated the enemy's strength and because the enemy knew, after 5 September, that it only had to concentrate on one army, First Guards.35 But the attacks had bought some time.

On the other hand, time was running out, and the battle was at the point of being carried into the streets of Stalingrad. On the 10th, Hoth told General der Panzertruppen Werner Kempf, the commanding general, XXXXVIII Panzer Corps, to start into the south quarter the next day and to take it "piece by piece."36 In the morning on the 12th, Eremenko and Khrushchev briefed Chuikov, the newly appointed commanding general of Sixty-second Army. The previous commander, General Leytenant A. I. Lopatin, who had lost the greater part of the army in the Kalach bridgehead, "did not believe that his army could hold the city." Chuikov swore "to defend the city or die in the attempt."37

Chuikov Against Paulus

It was time also for LI Corps to be heading east again; only the corps became stuck outside of Orlovka all-day on the 11th and was fighting off counterattacks until 2400. Paulus told Seydlitz the next morning to turn the line around Orlovka over to XIV Panzer Corps and to get ready to strike "to the Volga" on the 13th.38 Hoth was telling Weichs at the same time that the attack was "going to take a while" because the fighting was "more rigorous than any the troops have yet experienced in this war." Weichs and Hoth also talked about putting XXXXVIII Panzer Corps under Sixth Army in a day or two, which would give Paulus complete charge at Stalingrad and would let Hoth start thinking about the terminal phase of Operation FISCHREIHER, the advance to Astrakhan.39

On the morning of the 13th, Chuikov was in the Sixty-second Army command post, a dugout on Mamai Hill, when LI Corps' artillery opened up from behind Razgulyayevka. In the wake of the barrage, the infantry came on from the northwest, its left flank aimed at Mamai Hill, its right following the Tatar Trench, another feature of ancient and indeterminate origin. By nightfall, the Germans were into a woods a mile west of the hill and at the terminus of the Tatar Trench, where the built-up area of the city began. Chuikov moved his command post south during the night to a bunker close to the Tsaritsa River that had earlier been the Stalingrad Front headquarters. It was secure enough with forty feet of compacted earth overhead, but it put Chuikov right between LI Corps and XXXXVIII Panzer Corps that were aiming for a meeting on the river.40


The 14th was another dark day for the defense. In the south quarter, XXXXVIII Panzer Corps reached the railroad station and forced a spearhead through to the Tsaritsa. North of the river, LI Corps rammed two divisions abreast into the center of the city, by 1200 had the main railroad station, and at 1500 reached the Volga at the waterworks. By dark, the corps held almost a mile of river bank, and antitank guns set up there had sunk two ferries and a steamer.41

When the report on the day's events reached Stalin, he was conferring with Zhukov and Vasilevskiy in the Kremlin on a matter that enormously enhanced the strategic value of holding any part of Stalingrad.42 He instructed Vasilevskiy to have Eremenko send in the best division in the Stalingrad area, the 13th Guards Order of Lenin Rifle Division under Hero of the Soviet Union, General Mayor A. I. Rodimtsev. Rodimtsev was at Chuikov's headquarters in the afternoon, and the 10,000-man division crossed the river during the night.43

Seydlitz's LI Corps began to experience on the 14th and 15th what XXXXVIII Corps already had for several days: street fighting in a city that was being contested block by block, building by building, even floor by floor. Nothing was conceded. Houses were fought over as if they were major fortresses. According to the History of the Great Patriotic War, the main railroad station changed hands five times on the morning of the 14th and another thirteen times in the next several days. Who held what at any particular time was almost impossible to tell. The LI Corps took Mamai Hill on the 15th. The next day, one of Rodimtsev's regiments stormed it, and some Soviet accounts maintain the regiment retook it and held it for at least another ten days.44 The Sixth Army records, on the other hand, indicate that repeated Soviet attempts failed to dislodge the Germans from the hill after the 15th. Rodimtsev, however, did succeed in breaking the German hold on the Volga east of the railroad station. Realizing that he did not have a secure grip on any part of the city, Paulus, who on the 14th had wanted Seydlitz to turn north next, on the 15th ordered him first to join forces with XXXXVIII Panzer Corps, which was being attached to Sixth Army, and to clean out the central and south quarters.45

On the 17th, LI Corps and XXXXVIII Panzer Corps made contact with each other on the Tsaritsa, less than a mile upstream from Chuikov's headquarters bunker. Chuikov and his staff moved north to the vicinity of the Krasny Oktyabr works during the night. His own situation was precarious, but during the day, he had received good news: Stalingrad and Southeast Fronts were going over to the offensive, with the objective, no less, of pinching off the whole German Stalingrad force. First Guards and Twenty-fourth Armies would strike from the north and Sixty-fourth Army from the south. First Guards Army had been beefed up to a strength of


eight rifle divisions and three tank corps and had been shifted west, to the right of Twenty-fourth Army.46

The offensive began in the north, on both sides of Kotluban on the 18th and continued at intervals over the next four days, but it did not come near to making a breakthrough. Chuikov has said that the one effect his army noticed was that the German planes disappeared from overhead for five or six hours at a time while the attacks were going on.47 Actually, although he may not have known it, Chuikov benefited more than that. The LI Corps advance in Stalingrad slowed almost to a stop on the 19th and 20th, and Paulus reported on the 20th, "The infantry strength of the army has been so weakened by our own and the Russian attacks of recent days that a supplement is needed to activate it."48

The "Main Effort" in Stalingrad

The "supplement," as Paulus saw it, could come from seven divisions he still had standing inside the Don bend upstream to the mouth of the Khoper River. Although he had not been able to eliminate the Soviet bridgeheads at Kremenskaya-Sirotinskaya or at Serafimovich and the Russians had in fact expanded them substantially, he regarded the sector as being "in little danger," and he had divisions to substitute for those that would be taken away. The Rumanian Third Army, eleven divisions all told, was coming in from Army Group A. It was not being brought north because of its prowess on the battlefield; in fact, the reason was just the opposite: Army Group A, in spite of its chronic shortage in strength, had wanted to get rid of the Rumanians since early August because they were unreliable on the defense, and their offensive plans paid more attention to fall-back positions than to objectives to be attained.49

Hitler had finally let Third Army be transferred, in early September, because he thought the fall of Stalingrad was imminent and he wanted to reward Rumanian Marshal Ion Antonescu, his ally strongest in divisions, by setting up a Rumanian army group under Antonescu. Hitler's assumption had been that Rumanian Fourth Army, part of which already was with Fourth Panzer Army, Rumanian Third Army, and Sixth Army would make up the army group and it would take over what would by then have become a stationary front.50 Paulus' proposal of the 20th would bring the Rumanian Third Army into play earlier and in a more critical role than had been anticipated.

Apparently, an alternative also crossed Paulus' mind, namely, to go over to the defensive in Stalingrad. He had rejected that idea earlier when Wietersheim proposed it; and on the 16th, after one or two more exchanges of a similar nature, Wietersheim had been "called away to another assignment" and replaced at XIV Panzer Corps by Generalleutnant Hans Hube. He rejected it again on the 20th because "world-wide interest in the 'wall'


of Stalingrad makes it essential that the army's main effort now be at Stalingrad." As a "supplement," Weichs let Paulus have the 100th Jaeger Division right away and agreed to consider releasing two more divisions.51

On the 22d, LI Corps pushed two spearheads through to the Volga east of the railroad station but had to withdraw them again after dark. During the night Soviet planes bombed Stalingrad, and heavy artillery fire from across the river kept activity down on the 23d while Stalingrad Front's armies battered at the north front once more. The defense in the city's center, though, was breaking up on the 24th. The 71st Infantry Division took "half of what has been in enemy hands north of the Tsaritsa until now," and XXXXVIII Panzer Corps reached the Volga at the mouth of the Tsaritsa. In another day, 71st Infantry Division had taken the party and government buildings and pushed through to the mouth of the Tsaritsa on the north bank.

Paulus declared the center of the city secured on the afternoon on the 26th, after the docks, the last government buildings, and the big bunker in which Chuikov's headquarters had been were taken. "Since noon," he reported, "the German war flag has been flying over the party buildings." The resistance was actually far from over on either side of the Tsaritsa, but he had issued orders three days before to start the drive north on the 27th. In the meantime he had acquired one more division from the front on the Don.52

In troop strength, Sixty-second Army was now more than keeping up. Within the next four or five days, it would have received, since mid-September, reinforcements amounting to 9 rifle divisions, 2 tank brigades, and 1 rifle brigade. And the front commands were being reorganized and tightened. General Rokossovskiy, who had proved himself during the summer at Bryansk Front, was being brought in to take over Stalingrad Front, which on 28 September was renamed Don Front. Eremenko relinquished his double command but kept Southeast Front, which, renamed, became Stalingrad Front.53

Sixth Army showed it was becoming accustomed to thinking in new orders of magnitude when it recorded the first day's accomplishments in the attack to the north. The objectives taken were "Height 107.5, the blocks of houses northwest of there, and the gully northwest of Krasny Oktyabr [the worker's settlement]." On the 28th, LI Corps took "about half" of the Barrikady settlement, "two-thirds" of a block of houses around the "Meat Combine" at the foot of Mamai Hill, and the "western part" of the Krasny Oktyabr works. The next day, while taking the blocks of houses west of the bread bakery that was situated between the Krasny Oktyabr and Barrikady plants, the corps lost the houses it had taken around the "Meat Combine" and lost and retook part of the Barrikady settlement. The 30th brought no change at LI Corps, but XIV Panzer Corps broke into Orlovka from the north.54



On 1 October, "in seesawing battle," Sixth Army held what it had so far taken and counted itself lucky to have done so. A day later, the war diary records, "The chief of staff informed the army group that in spite of the most intensive efforts by all forces, the low combat strengths of the infantry will prolong the taking of Stalingrad indefinitely if reinforcements cannot be supplied." Paulus told Weichs on the 3d, "At present even the breaking out of individual blocks of houses can only be accomplished after lengthy regroupings to bring together the few combat-worthy assault elements that can still be found." The next afternoon, following a visit to the front, the chief of staff reported, ". . . without reinforcements, the army is not going to take Stalingrad very soon. The danger exists that were the Russians to make fairly strong counterattacks our front might not hold, because there are no reserves behind it."55

Sixth Army's war diary entry for 6 October reads, "The army's attack into Stalingrad had to be temporarily suspended [today] because of the exceptionally low infantry combat strengths." In the divisions, the diary continues, average battalion strengths were down to 3 officers, 11 noncommissioned officers, and 62 men. The army could scrape together enough replacements from the supply service to make small advances, but, "The occupation of the entire city is not to be accomplished in such a fashion."56


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (XVIII) * Next Chapter (XX)


1. Pz. AOK 4, Ia Kriegstagebuch Notizen Chef, 1-4 Aug 42, Pz. AOK 28183/17 file; Chuikov, Stalingrad, pp. 44-50.

2. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 2-5 Aug 42, AOK 6 2394811 file; H. Gr. B, Ia Nr. 2383/42, an AOK 6, 5.8.42, AOK 6 30155/39 file.

3. Eremenko, Pomni voyny, pp. 172-75.

4. IVMV, vol. V, p. 164; IVOVSS, vol. II, p. 431; Moskalenko, Na Yugo-zapadnom napravlenii, p. 288.

5. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 7-15 Aug 42, AOK 6 23948/11 file. In Moskalenko's account, Headquarters, First Tank Army turned over its troops to Sixty-second Army during the day on the 7th, after having received an order to do so the night before. Moskalenko, Na Yugo-zopodnom napravlenii, p. 288.

6. AOK 6, Ia Nr. 2948/42, Armeebefehl fuer die Gewinnung des Donbogens suedwestlich Ilowlinskaya, 11.8.42, AOK 6 30155/42 file.

7. Vasilevskiy, Delo, p. 234; Moskalenko, No Yugo-zapadnom napravlenii, p. 292f; Eremenko, Pomni voyny, p. 187.

8. Eremenko, Pomni voyny, p. 187. See also IVOVSS, vol. II, p. 432, which gives 13 August as the date of Eremenko's appointment.

9. IVMV, vol. V, p. 168.

10. IVOVSS, vol. II, p. 432; Moskalenko, No Yugo-zapadnom napravlenii, pp. 294-96.

11. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 15-22 Aug 42, AOK 6 23948/11 file.

12. Der Oberbefehlshaber der 4. Panzerarmee, an General Heusinger, 19.8.42, Pz. AOK 4 28183/5 file.

13. Eremenko, Pomni voyny, p. 185.

14. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 16 Aug 42, AOK 6 2394811 file.

15. AOK 6, Ia Nr. 3044/42, Armeebefehl fuer den Angriff auf Stalingrad, 19.8.42, AOK 6 30155/42 file.

16. Plocher, German Air Force, p. 231.

17. Pz. AOK 4, Ia Kriegstagebuch Notizen Chef, 23-26 Aug 42, Pz. AOK 4 28183/17 file; AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 23-26 Aug 42, AOK 6 2394811 file.

18. Vasilevskiy, Delo, p.236.

19. IVMV, vol. V, p. 175; Zhukov, Memoirs, p. 377.

20. Vasilevskiy, Delo, p. 239; IVOVSS, vol. II, p. 438.

21. Greiner Diary Notes, 28 Aug 42, C-065q CMH file; Plocher, German Air Force, p. 234.

22. Greiner Diary Notes, 2 Sep 42, C-065q CMH file.

23. IVOVSS, vol. II, p. 438.

24. Zhukov, Memoirs, p. 379.

25. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 4 Sep 42, AOK 6 23948/11 file; Pz. AOK 4, Ia Kriegstagebuch Notizen Chef, 4 Sep 42, Pz. AOK 4 28183/17 file.

26. Moskalenko, Na Yugo-zapadnom napravlenii, p. 328.

27. Zhukov, Memoirs, p. 379.

28. Moskalenko, Na Yugo-zapadnom napravlenii, pp. 328-31.

29. Zhukov, Memoirs, p. 380.

30. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 5 Sep 42, AOK 6 2394811 file.

31. Ibid., 6 Sep 42.

32. Ibid., 7-9 Sep 42.

33. I. R. 71 (mot.), Ia, Gefechtsbericht des 111./71 vom 11.9.42, 20.9.42, Pz. AOK 4 28183/5 file.

34. Zhukov, Memoirs, p. 381.

35. Moskalenko, Na Yugo-zapadnom napravlenii, p. 329.

36. Pz. AOK 4, Ia Kriegstagebuch Notizen Chef, 10 Sep 42, Pz. AOK 4 28183/17 file.

37. Chuikov, Stalingrad, p. 76.

38. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 11 and 12 Sep 42, AOK 6 2394811 file.

39. Pz. AOK 4, Ia Fernsprechnotizen zum K.T.B. Nr. 5, 12 Sep 42, Pz. AOK 4 28183/19 file; Pz. AOK 4, Ia Kriegstagebuch Notizen Chef, 12 Sep 42, Pz. AOK 4 2818317 file.

40. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 13 Sep 42, AOK 6 2394811 file; Chuikov, Stalingrad, pp. 86-88; Samsonov, Stalingradskaya bitva, p. 190.

41. Pz. AOK 4, Ia Fernsprechnotizen zum K.T.B. Nr. 5, 14 Sep 42, Pz. AOK 4 28183/19 file; AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 14 Sep 42, AOK 6 2394811 file.

42. See p. 442.

43. Zhukov, Memoirs, p. 384; Chuikov, Stalingrad, p. 91; Samsonov, Stalingradskaya bitva, p. 193ff.

44. IVOVSS, vol. II, pp. 441-42; Chuikov, Stalingrad, p. 97.

45. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 14-22 Sep 42, AOK 6 2394811 file.

46. Chuikov, Stalingrad, p. 102; Moskalenko, Na Yugo-zapadnom napravlenii, p. 336.

47. Chuikov, Stalingrad, p. 113.

48. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 20 Sep 42, AOK 6 2394811 file.

49. OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. (I) Nr. 420618/42, 18.8.42, H 22/216 file.

50. OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. (I) Nr. 420662/42, Betr: "Stab Don," 3.9.42, H 22/216 file.

51. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 20 and 21 Sep 42, AOK 6 2394811 file.

52. Ibid., 22-26 Sep 42.

53. IVOVSS, vol. II, pp. 242-44; IVMV, vol. V, p. 187.

54. AOK 6, Ia Kriegstagebuch Nr. 13, 27-30 Sep 42, AOK 6 2394811 file.

55. Ibid., 1-4 Oct 42.

56. Ibid., 6 Oct 42.

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation