He explores Germanys strategic decisions that led to probably the most important battle of the Second World War. He also details the growth of the combat capability of the Red Army the led to the surrender of the better part of two German field armies in February of The main goal was Baku and the oil fields. Stalingrad was mentioned only as a good place to cut the Volga and stop the supplies going up river to the rest of the USSR. He also makes the point that the Germans were not strong enough to attack on two major axis. In describing the early battles, he looks at the improvement of the war making skills of the Red Army.
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David M. Army colonel fluent in Russian, David M. Glantz writes data-rich tomes that synthesize his research in the recently opened Soviet archives. For example, he and coauthor Jonathan M. House are the first historians to use archival material from the brutal Soviet secret police force, the NKVD, which was charged with maintaining discipline in the Red Army. I mean examining the records of both sides to finally strip away the myths and begin to restore reality. Historians today are focused not on operational but social issues.
But it all sits on the structure of military reality. Why choose Stalingrad? There have been hundreds of books on the battle, dating back to the early s. Many early ones were German memoirs, or about specific Germans. In the s and s, many were essentially derived from those sources plus a narrow base of Soviet sources, the predominant one being memoirs by Vasily Chuikov, who headed the Soviet Sixty-second Army; those are quite accurate and very good.
But over time, all these books incorporated the same basic conclusions about the campaign as a whole and the battle for the city. And many of those conclusions are simply wrong. For example? One common perception is this: unlike in Barbarossa in , where the Soviet army resisted the Wehrmacht and took immense casualties, during Blau in Stalin very quickly withdraws his forces and decides to trade space for time; once he gets back to a more defensible line, he launches a counteroffensive. His strategy throughout the war is to attack everywhere at every time, in the belief that somewhere someone will break.
Does the Red Army attack on the road to Stalingrad? There are major tank battles, to 1, Soviet tanks. What do these achieve? The same thing happens at the end of July: two new Soviet tank armies appear at the bend of the Don River and launch counterattacks in support of the new Sixty-second Army. This huge tank battle goes on for nearly three weeks, and throws the German plan right out the window.
So in , although Russian armies are encircled and their fighting ability destroyed, the troops get out and either go to ground or rejoin the Red Army later. What happens to the German plan? As Sixth Army advances, it has to protect its flanks, especially along the Don. So an ever-smaller part of the army is committed forward. After they clear the bend in the Don, they mount an offensive to seize the city.
This is probably the most important point in the Battle of Stalingrad. They plan to seize the city by crossing the Don and advancing to the Volga in two pincers headed by panzer corps: get them into Stalingrad from the north and south, and seize it without a fight. What stops them? As soon as they launch their attacks, the Soviets begin counterattacks. That leaves three German divisions in hedgehogs stretched along a kilometer road.
They never get into the factory district in the north end of the city, which becomes the site of the last battles. The southern pincer does what it is supposed to. Where does that leave him? With one infantry corps—the only force he has to reduce the city. It has three infantry divisions in it, and a few other supporting groups—only one-third of Sixth Army.
He does try to lead attacks with armor, until each of those panzer divisions is worn out. By October , his regiments are battalions, divisions are regiments, and Sixth Army is probably a corps. What is the Soviet strategy? To feed just enough troops into the city to keep it from falling. They are sacrificial lambs. Divisions that come in with 10, men have the next day.
Many divisions are fragments. The th Rifle Division, popularized in the film Enemy at the Gates—only one of its three regiments has rifles. It was so brutal that Stavka, the Soviet high command, forbade A. How do the Germans react? For them it becomes a meat grinder.
Every division they send in is weakened, so they have to pull new ones off the flanks. The attrition rate is phenomenal. In early November, they run out of divisions. How do they maintain the offensive? They take all the engineer battalions out of Army Group B, which makes the final attack on November So they have nobody to defend the Don, except Italians and Romanians. Hungarians are already in the line.
What kind of leader was Stalin? The myth is that Stalin micromanaged the first year, then at about the time of Stalingrad began deferring to his commanders, and thereafter the commanders fought the war under his general guidance.
He was hands-on throughout. They understand that even if you have to ruthlessly expend manpower, resistance will wear down a numerically weaker opponent. That tactic cost probably 14 million military dead—the price of defeating a more experienced, battle-worthy, savvy Wehrmacht.
David M. Glantz Fights for the Truth About Stalingrad
Includes daily and periodic reports prepared by the Western Front and its subordinate headquarters during the initial period of the war. Includes daily and periodic reports prepared by the Northwestern Front and its subordinate headquarters during the initial period of the war. General K. Colonel R. A detailed description f the organization and functions of German and Soviet intelligence, counterintelligence, and diversionary and partisan operations prepared in by the U.
Stalingrad Trilogy by David M. Glantz