Propaganda leaflet from the Battle of Stalingrad. Translation:
Above : You are encircled! But you still have a chance!
Bottom : You may turn to the German side, so you'll save your lives for yourMotherland !
It has been mentioned several times that Carl and I play Combat Mission on a daily basis. For those of you not in the know, it is not a point and shoot game, rather a game where each opponent plots their tanks, men, mortars, machine guns and whatever else they have independently, then the computer computes the action, spits out a "movie" and the opponents plot the next turn.
We are currently involved in a recreation of one of the most terrible battles of World War Two, the fight for the Dzerzhinsky Tractor Factory. This factory was a key fixture in Stalingrad - which should be renamed to "Hell on Earth".
Stalingrad is one of those battles which has fascinated me since I was a little boy. There are the large questions of what the Germans actually indended to do once they captured Stalingrad, why they were even there in the first place and why the Russians decided to make it the place where they were not to be moved from. Along with the larger questions there are so many smaller battles within Stalingrad that are just so incredible that I still cannot believe after all of these years of reading and looking at photos that people actually did this to each other. The names of Mamayev Kurgan (the Soviets lost ten thousand men in one day here!), Barrikady Gun Factory and Dzerzhinsky still give me shudders to this day and probably always will.
The time was November 1942 and the Germans had 90% of the city of Stalingrad captured. The Soviet forces were split and the ice on the Volga made resupply very tough for those defending the last slivers of Stalingrad. Unfornately for the Germans the territory left was...awful to fight in. Devastated factories, homes, and other debris made fighting - much less walking or running - difficult at best. The Soviets also had massed artillery on the eastern side of the river and were bombarding the Germans non-stop. This also made it difficult for the German tanks to maneuver and made wonderful defensive positions for the Soviet troops and snipers. Truly a hell on earth.
Long story short, the massive Soviet counter offensive eventually cut off the Germans in the city of Stalingrad and they eventually ran out of food and ammo. Paulus, the German commander had to surrender and the German Sixth Army was finished.
Inside all of this horrific action were smaller actions, and Carl and I are right now in the Tractor Works. At the start of the battle things were very interesting - Carl and I were both maneuvering men and machines. But now it has settled into a bizarre version of trench warfare. Both of us are short on men and ammo, casualties are very high, reinforcements have finished arriving and we are wondering if we should let all of our computer men die in there or to call a ceasefire and let everyone "off the hook".
I find it very interesting that a computer game can give you a feel for how desperate and awful that situation must have been. I am glad I wasn't there and feel sorry for those that were. One word describes Stalingrad - Sad.
Here is a link to some interesting photos - the most interesting of which is the one of Pavlov's house. This house was a fortress where a handful of men held out for the length of the battle.
Here is the Wiki on Mamayev Kurgan. This hill was taken and retaken by both sides several times. Two interesting facts - when they plowed the blood soaked soil under, there were between 500 and 1250 splinters of metal per square meter of soil. Also, Chuikov, the famous Soviet general is buried here.
Here is another interesting collection of photos, some with "before" photos of Stalingrad. Didn't look too bad.
This is an amazing source. Of particular interest to me was the documents section - there are propaganda leaflets there, newspaper articles and other interesting tidbits.
If you have Google Earth, check out Volgograd, Russia - the modern day name for Stalingrad. I had no idea the Volga River was that wide and that explains a lot of the Soviet supply problems as fall and winter descended on the area.