MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
On November 19, 1942, after an 80-minute artillery preparation, the troops of the Southwestern and Don fronts, as part of the strategic operation “Uranus”, began to encircle and liquidate the grouping of German fascist troops near Stalingrad. By November 23, the operational encirclement was completed, and on February 2, 1943, the encircled enemy grouping of more than 300 thousand people was completely defeated. More than 90 thousand Wehrmacht soldiers and officers were taken prisoner, including the commander of the German 6th Army, Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, with his entire staff. As a result, the Hitlerite army, with huge losses for it, was thrown back hundreds of kilometers from the Volga and Don. This triumph of the Red Army and Soviet military operational art marked the beginning of a radical turning point not only in the Great Patriotic War, but throughout the Second World War as a whole.
The Ministry of Defense of Russia to commemorate the 79th anniversary of the start of the Stalingrad strategic offensive operation “Uranus” launches a new multimedia historical and educational section “Stalingrad turning point. The battle that changed the course of the Great War “.
It presents archival documents of the war years from the funds of the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense of Russia, revealing the final episode of the Battle of Stalingrad – the defeat of the Nazi group and the capture of the commander, Field Marshal Paulus.
For the first time, a wide range of users has been presented with the full text of the ultimatum in Russian and German. The document was prepared at the beginning of January by the command of the Don Front, which was trying to avoid unnecessary losses, when it was already clearly evident that the Red Army could not be overcome at Stalingrad. In addition, the section contains the pages of the journal of the military actions of the Don Front, reports and reports from the command of the Red Army about the surrender of the Nazis, a transcript of the conversation between the commander of the 64th Army, Lieutenant General Mikhail Shumilov with the captured Friedrich Paulus, a diary report of an NKVD operative about the location of German generals in Soviet captivity, as well as a number of photographic documents of the Don Front, depicting the surrender of the fascist troops.
The section opens the text of the ultimatum to the commander of the German group signed by the representative of the Supreme Command Headquarters, Colonel-General of Artillery Nikolai Voronov and the commander of the Don Front, Lieutenant-General Konstantin Rokossovsky. According to this document, those who surrendered, among other things, were provided with the following conditions: “All personnel of the surrendering troops keep their military uniform, insignia and orders, personal belongings, values, and the senior officers and edged weapons.” The Soviet command expected an answer to this ultimatum by 15 o’clock on January 9, but did not receive it. “If you reject our offer of surrender, we warn you that the troops of the Red Army and the Red Air Fleet will be forced to conduct business to destroy the encircled German troops, and you will be responsible for their destruction.” Thus, the fighting continued.
About how this document was transferred to the German command, the message published in the section by a member of the parliamentary group of the senior instructor of the 7th department of the political administration of the Don Front, captain Nikolai Dyatlenko, who was in the delegation as an interpreter, tells in detail. The first attempt to get to the Germans and deliver the ultimatum was unsuccessful: “At the very front edge, sniper fire forced us to lie behind a small parapet, from where we continued to give signals with a pipe and a flag.” Then the German-fascist troops opened mortar fire: “The mines lay down exactly, and we were forced to hide in the dugout of the outpost.”
The next day, the group was able to approach the positions of the Nazis, and the chief lieutenant came out to meet it. Then the parliamentarians, blindfolded, were escorted to the headquarters of the German unit located in this area. However, Soviet officers could not go further and convey an ultimatum to the German command. The chief lieutenant accompanying them said: “My superior ordered me not to accompany you further, not to accept the package, but, adhering to international rules, to take you back, return the weapon and ensure the safety of the return to my troops.”
The Soviet command, carrying out the liquidation of the encircled group, tried to do this without unnecessary bloodshed, over and over again offering the fascist command to start negotiations. So, back in December 1942, the commander of the Stalingrad front, Colonel-General Andrei Eremenko presented the following ultimatum to the general of tank forces Friedrich Paulus: “General! If my proposal is not accepted, you will be held responsible for the deaths of many thousands of soldiers and officers, whose fate is entrusted to you. At the same time, I inform you that if I do not receive a satisfactory answer from you, I will have to enter into negotiations directly with the commanders of the divisions and regiments entrusted to you. “
However, as evidenced by the published text of the intercepted radio message, the German command, just to amuse its own pride, decided not to reckon with any losses and casualties. Paulus ordered: “By all means at your disposal, up to executions, to stop any talk of surrender among the soldiers and officers”, and also: “to impose the strictest obligation on all officers and soldiers to unconditionally fulfill the special order of the Fuehrer.”
The telegraphic report presented in the section to the Main Political Directorate of the Red Army informs about another order of Paulus, in which the German commander tried to convince his subordinates that “who surrenders, he will never see his loved ones again.”
The negotiations, which took place shortly before the complete defeat of the German fascist troops, were also unsuccessful, which is confirmed by the combat report of the commander of the Don Front on January 27, 1943, to the Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army. This document says that a meeting took place between representatives of the 57th Army of the Don Front and the command of the encircled, at which the German officer said that “since General Paulus has not yet received instructions from Hitler, he refuses to negotiate.” Further in the report says: “In connection with the refusal of the commander of the 6th German army from surrender, the troops of the Don Front were ordered to resume hostilities to fulfill the previous task – the complete destruction of the encircled enemy grouping.”
Despite the stubborn reluctance of the German commander to lay down their arms, his subordinates, seeing their hopeless situation, surrendered. So, in the information on the process of surrender of the encircled and defeated German troops at Stalingrad, it is reported that already on January 25, the 297th German Infantry Division, consisting of about 1200 people, surrendered; On January 26, a communications regiment (800 men) surrendered to the Soviet troops; On the 27th, the 44th Infantry Division surrendered in the amount of 2,250 soldiers – and so on every day until complete defeat and surrender.
Another report on the enemy’s morale notes the complete collapse of the Nazis ‘hopes for any favorable outcome: “But now, when a month has passed since the end of the encirclement and the hope for help is crumbling, the soldiers’ masses are beginning to realize their desperate situation. This is reflected in the increase in the number of prisoners and in the voluntary transfer to our side of German soldiers and non-commissioned officers in small groups, which was not previously noted. “
The operational summary of the 64th Army headquarters published in the section on January 31, 1943 testifies to the circumstances of Paulus’s own capture: “Continuing the destruction of the encircled enemy grouping, army units in the morning of January 31, 1943 surrounded the headquarters of the German 6th Army located in the executive committee building. After that, at the suggestion of the commander of the 6th Army of the Germans, Field Marshal von Paulus (he received the title of “Field Marshal” on January 30, 1943 – Ed.), Negotiations began on the surrender of the southern ring of Stalingrad. “
The section contains documents detailing the surrender of the fascist commander, which are presented in the published brief description of the capture of the headquarters of the 6th German Army: “At 6:00 on 31 January 1943, during a shootout with von Paulus’s security, a personal adjutant came out of the basement of the department store von Paulus – Colonel Adam, who, with his immediate capture, said that the German command wants to negotiate with our command. ” As indicated in the document, the field marshal himself was not at the negotiations, and the German delegation was represented by Generals Schmidt and Roske, who commanded the German army groups, divided into two parts as a result of the Soviet counteroffensive. Moreover, in addition to describing the battle to blockade Paulus’s headquarters, there is his image here – the so-called panorama, in which the artist sketched the scene with the designation of the headquarters of the German commander and the movement of Soviet units along the streets.
One interesting detail is noted in this document: although the German officers accepted all the terms of surrender, one reservation was made: “to ensure the complete safety of Paulus by the command of the Red Army, so that they could not attack him by road or when leaving” and “until he leaves, so that his soldiers were armed. ” Lieutenant General Schmidt explained this reservation: “otherwise the heart of the Field Marshal, who saw his soldiers disarmed, will not be able to withstand.” But by this time, many German soldiers had abandoned their weapons without Paulus’s order, and as it is emphasized in the document: “When our delegation and von Paulus’s retinue left the basement to get into the cars, there was almost no one left from the armed guard of von Paulus: the guards were already ours, and some of the soldiers in a huge column on the site also stood indifferently. However, von Paulus withstood this difficult situation for him, no “heart break” happened to him, about which the chief of staff, Lieutenant General Schmidt, was so unnecessarily worried. “
In addition, this document describes an episode of a conversation between Soviet Lieutenant Colonel Mutovin and German Major General Roske about the reasons for Paulus’s surrender: Goering and Goebbels spoke out, who did not say a word about the troops in Stalingrad. “
Another interesting document in the section is a report on Paulus being held captive, with entries from the diary of an operative of the Counterintelligence Department of the Special Department of the NKVD of the Don Front – Senior Lieutenant of State Security Yevgeny Tarabrin. A Soviet officer, without showing his knowledge of foreign languages, from January 31 to February 5, 1943 was among the captured generals of the Wehrmacht and monitored them. His diary is a vivid sketch of the life of prisoners of war, their conversations and reflections aloud about the course of the war. It also provides a description of the appearance of the prisoners and their psychological portraits. As recorded in his diary, in one of his conversations with German generals, Paulus noted the actions of Soviet troops at Stalingrad with the following words: “Yes, all of this will go down in military history as a brilliant example of the enemy’s operational art.”
For their exploits during the Battle of Stalingrad, tens of thousands of Red Army soldiers were awarded medals and orders, 112 of whom became Heroes of the Soviet Union …
The section presents the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on awarding 21 Red Army soldiers and commanders – parliamentarians, who at different times sent ultimatums to the surrounded German troops. Among those awarded the Order of Lenin in this list is Major General Ivan Burmakov, who, being in the battles to destroy the Stalingrad group of fascists, a colonel, commander of the 38th motorized rifle brigade, skillfully managing the course of the battle, cut off Paulus’ headquarters from German units and, forcing the Nazis to negotiate , organized a meeting of the Soviet delegation with the German command. The award material for the commander emphasizes his role in the successful liquidation of the encircled enemy group: “The bold, skillful and decisive actions of Comrade Burmakov led to the surrender of the 71st Infantry Division (infantry division – ed.) And other units of the Germans, as well as to the capture of the general. field marshal Paulus and his staff. ” A clear display of the actions of the colonel’s subordinates is presented in the published combat log of the 38th motorized rifle brigade, in which, in addition to describing the battles, there is a diagram of the very place where Paulus was captured.
In addition to reports, dispatches, various messages, the section contains unique photographs of the war times from the journal of the Don Front’s military operations. These photographs depict the heroes of Stalingrad, such as, for example, the deputy commander of a company of machine gunners for political affairs Valentina Belikova, who killed more than 50 fascists in street battles; depicts German prisoners of war, ranging from private to army commander, Field Marshal Paulus. In this magazine, a photograph with captured Wehrmacht soldiers and officers was ironically signed with the word “invincible.”
The Battle of Stalingrad, which marked the beginning of a radical change in the entire Second World War, revealed the increased capabilities of the Red Army and enriched it with vast experience in destroying large enemy groupings. Thanks to the jointly planned defensive and offensive (“Uranus”) operations of the group of fronts, the Soviet command was able to intercept the strategic initiative and defeat about a quarter of all fascist forces operating on the Soviet-German front at Stalingrad. The total losses of the Nazis amounted to about 1.5 million people killed, wounded, captured and missing. In view of this, for the first time in the war years, national mourning was declared in Germany. The foreign policy positions of the Nazis were shaken: it was thanks to the collapse of the “invincible” on the Volga that Japan finally abandoned plans for a war with the USSR; and Turkey, despite the influence from Germany, remained neutral.
The publication of documents from the funds of the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense of Russia about the encirclement and defeat of the German fascist group at Stalingrad is aimed at preserving and defending the historical truth, at glorifying the exploits of Soviet soldiers, at countering the falsifications of history.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.