Stalingrad Background

"The disaster of Stalingrad profoundly shocked the German people and armed forces alike…Never before in Germany's history had so large a body of troops come to so dreadful an end."
General Siegfried von Westphal - 1943

"Stalingrad is no longer a town… it is an enormous cloud of burning, blinding smoke."
German Officer of the 24th Panzer Division, October 1942.

"13 September. A bad date, our battalion was very unlucky. The katyushas (Soviet rocket launchers) inflicted heavy losses this morning: 27 killed and 50 wounded. The Russians fight with the desperation of wild beasts; they won't allow themselves to be taken prisoner, but instead let you come up close and then they throw grenades. Lieutenant Kraus was killed yesterday, so we have no company commander."
German soldier Willi Hoffman, 94th Infantry Division, on the battle for the grain elevator.

"16 September. Our battalion is attacking the grain elevator with tanks. Smoke is pouring out of it. The grain is burning and it seems the Russians inside set fire to it themselves. It's barbaric. The battalion is taking heavy losses. Those are not people in the elevator, they are devils and neither fire nor bullets can touch them."
German soldier Willi Hoffman, 94th Infantry Division, on the battle for the grain elevator.

"At the bottom of the trenches there lay frozen green Germans and frozen grey Russians and frozen fragments of human shapes, and there were helmets, Russian and German, lying among the brick debris… How anyone could have survived was hard to imagine. But now everything was silent in this fossilized hell, as though a raving lunatic had suddenly died of heart failure."
Alexander Werth, in Stalingrad, February 1943.

The date is September 23rd 1942, the city of Stalingrad lies ruined pounded into rubble by the German war machine. The mighty 6th Army which had been a major participator in the taking of Paris and more recently in the battle of Kharkov, was now launching a major offensive against the city which held The Great Comrade Stalin's name. The Facists were determined to take the city and clear the way for Army Group South to secure the oil rich caucuses, the Russians were even more determined to hold the city, and they threw everything and everyone they had at the Germans. Men who were of an age to fight were rounded up from all over The Soviet Union and marched off to the eastern bank of the Volga. Amongst the thousands gathered on this particular day are a group of men of varying backgrounds, some who had never fired a rifle before in their lives, ordinary citizens who were about to become heroes…………