Generals At War episode 5 – The Battle of Stalingrad: 1942 – as the Germans storm across the Soviet Union, Hitler becomes obsessed with taking Stalingrad – the city which bears the name of his arch-enemy Joseph Stalin. The German army is led by General Paulus, a meticulous war gamer.
Facing him across the map table is Soviet General Chuikov – a hardened fighter, not afraid to get his hands dirty. Paulus is confident he will soon bring the city to its knees. But the German army reduces Stalingrad to rubble so successfully, that the ruined city actually works against them. It blocks their tanks and creates the perfect killing ground for Russian snipers and street fighters.
Generals At War episode 5 – The Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
In the Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943), Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia. Marked by fierce close-quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it is one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with an estimated 2 million total casualties. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw considerable military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses.
The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intense Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The battle degenerated into house-to-house fighting, as both sides poured reinforcements into the city. By mid-November, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River.
On 19 November, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the 6th Army’s flanks. The Axis flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler was determined to hold the city at all costs and forbade the 6th Army from attempting a breakout; instead, attempts were made to supply it by air and to break the encirclement from the outside. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. At the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad, having exhausted their ammunition and food, surrendered:932 after five months, one week and three days of fighting.
Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus (23 September 1890 – 1 February 1957) was a German field marshal during World War II who commanded the 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad (August 1942 to February 1943). The battle ended in disaster for the Wehrmacht when Soviet forces encircled the Germans within the city, leading to the ultimate defeat and capture of about 265,000 German personnel, their Axis allies and collaborators.
Paulus fought in World War I and saw action in France and the Balkans. He was considered a promising officer; by the time World War II broke out he had been promoted to major general. Paulus took part in the Poland and Low Countries campaigns, after which he was named deputy chief of the German General Staff. In that capacity, Paulus helped plan the invasion of the Soviet Union.
Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov (12 February 1900 – 18 March 1982) was a Soviet military officer. He was the commander of the 62nd Army which saw heavy combat during the Battle of Stalingrad. Following World War II, Chuikov was Chief of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (1949–53), commander of the Kiev Military District (1953–60), Chief of the Soviet Armed Forces and Deputy Minister of Defense (1960–64), and head of the Soviet Civil Defense Forces (1961–72).
Chuikov was twice awarded the titles Hero of the Soviet Union (1944 and 1945) and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by the United States for his actions during the Battle of Stalingrad. In 1955, he was named a Marshal of the Soviet Union. Following his death in 1982, he was interred at the Stalingrad memorial at Mamayev Kurgan, which had been the site of heavy fighting.