The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II it also changed the face of modern warfare Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor s magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II s most harrowing battle In August , Hitler s huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin s name In the five month siege that followed, the Russians fought to hold Stalingrad at any cost then, in an astonishing reversal, encircled and trapped their Nazi enemy This battle for the ruins of a city cost than a million lives Stalingrad conveys the experience of soldiers on both sides, fighting in inhuman conditions, and of civilians trapped on an urban battlefield Antony Beevor has interviewed survivors and discovered completely new material in a wide range of German and Soviet archives, including prisoner interrogations and reports of desertions and executions As a story of cruelty, courage, and human suffering, Stalingrad is unprecedented and unforgettable


10 thoughts on “Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942–1943

  1. Matt Matt says:

    You fool You fell victim to one of the classic blunders The most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia but only slightly less well known is this Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line Wallace Shawn as Vizzini in The Princess BrideNever get involved in a land war in Asia Or the European portion of Russia That s good advice For whatever reason, though, the lure of Russia its vast steppes, its vast resources, its vast and bloody history has You fool You fell victim to one of the classic blunders The most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia but only slightly less well known is this Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line Wallace Shawn as Vizzini in The Princess BrideNever get involved in a land war in Asia Or the European portion of Russia That s good advice For whatever reason, though, the lure of Russia its vast steppes, its vast resources, its vast and bloody history has proven irresistible, stretching back to early Mongol invasions The two most famous fools who dared strive for Moscow were Napoleon and Hitler Napoleon was failed by the logistics of his day and age the harder he pressed Kutuzov, and the deeper he got into Russia, the longer his supply line became When he reached his goal, he ran out of food, and turned back in the midst of a cruel winter On his retreat, Napoleon famously remarked that from the sublime to the ridiculous is but a single step The temptation when dealing with Operation Barbarossa, Hitler s invasion of the Soviet Union, is to compare its failure to that of Napoleon, and chalk it up to Russia s tremendous size and unforgiving winters Undoubtedly, the winters were rough, and the Germans unprepared, but as Anthony Beevor makes clear in Stalingrad, the fault did not lie in the weather, but in Hitler and the stars Operation Barbarossa was a huge gamble, one that many of Hitler s generals and his generally imbecilic foreign minister Ribbentrop wanted him to avoid However, due to Stalin s willful blindness, it almost worked Indeed, it should have worked Without Hitler s constant bumbling intervention, it would have worked Instead, the Germans attacked Stalingrad and nearly captured it Then, the Russians surrounded the Germans, and the attackers became the attacked The Germans at Stalingrad surrendered, and eventually the entire German invasion was turned The mistake at issue in Beevor s Stalingrad is that there was ever a battle of Stalingrad in the first place Specifically, in the second summer of the German invasion, the Nazi armies were poised to sprint to the Caucuses and seize the Soviet oil fields Hitler intervened and split the German Army Group, sending Group B to Stalingrad, where it was eventually chewed to pieces This is all explained in the beginning sections of Stalingrad, which are dedicated to the the planning of Operation Barbarossa, the start of the invasion, the battle for Moscow, and the first Russian winter I found this to be the weakest part of the book, and it actually made me pause and consider continuing Not that I didn t appreciate the purpose I firmly believe that even the most subject specific history book should provide a little context In this case, though, the overview was not only cursory, but confusing Beevor jumps quickly from event to event, battle to battle, using a series of unconnected anecdotes He tries to cover too much subject matter in too few pages, so there is no room to breath or even reflect on what you re reading Oh, the Germans executed thousands of Jews at Babi Yar That s interesting, but we re moving right along The situation is not helped by the small number of maps Beevor expends a lot of ink detailing troop movements However, without a map showing where that body of soldiers was actually positioned on this earth, it s all a lot of numbers and letters signifying nothing If you want me to care that the 81st Cavalry Division in the 4th Cavalry Corps crossed the Kalmyk steppe to the southern flank, you will kindly have to show me where the Kalmyk steppe is located I m guessing it ssomewhere to the south Once the preliminaries are taken care of, and the focus is placed on General Paulus fight for Stalingrad, things get better At the very least, the writing is at times vivid and evocative Beevor has a novelistic flair for creating memorable images Take, for instance, this description of Russian troops crossing the Volga to enter Stalingrad The crossing was probably most eerie for those in the rowing boats, as the water gently slapped the bow, and the rowlocks creaked in unison The distant crack of rifle shots and the thump of shell bursts sounded hollow over the expanse of river Then, German artillery, mortars and any machine guns close enough to the bank switched their aim Columns of water were thrown up in midstream, drenching the occupants of the boats The silver bellies of stunned fish soon glistened on the surfaceSome men stared at the water around them to avoid the sight of the far bank, rather like a climber refusing to look down Others, however, kept glancing ahead to the blazing buildings on the western shore, their steel helmeted heads instinctively withdrawn into the shouldersAs darkness intensified, the huge flames silhouetted the shells of tall buildings on the bank high above them and cast grotesque shadows Sparks flew up in the night airAs they approached the shore, they caught the smell of charred buildings and the sickly stench from decaying corpses under the rubble.Even during this middle section of the book, while the Germans were still on the offensive, I still had problems with the book s coherence A lot of times, the paragraphs on the page seemed absolute strangers to each other Also, many paragraphs just left me scratching my head For instance, one paragraph dealing with the Russian response to deserition stated that o n a rare occasionthe authorities considered that officers had been overharsh After giving this statement, Beevor goes on to quote a story about a nineteen year old lieutenant being executed after two of his men deserted Huh The proposition in the paragraph was that sometimes even the Russians realized they were nuts but instead of supporting this statement, Beevor tells a story that shows just the opposite This is not to get nit picky, but as I read, I often had this almost unconscious sensation that something was slightly off The final third of the book, though, is quite strong Once the Germans are on the defensive, battling Russians and the winter, Beevor s narrative really grips you It s a good book to read while sitting in an armchair on a frigid February day so you can sympathize, without having to empathize Along with the details of battle, there are fascinating discussions is fascinating the right word about topics as varied as medical care, starvation, frostbite, and Russian vodka rations they often went into battle drunk, natch Stalingrad is a hard battle to write about There are big troop movements leading up to the fight in the city And there are big troop movements that lead to the encirclement of the German Army However, most of the bitter fighting within the city itself was small unit action There are certain locations of note such as the Tractor Factory but a lot of the descriptions of the fighting are vague and generalized, since they come from the individual soldiers, and they certainly couldn t know what was going on Beevor is at his absolute best when he leaves the generalities and finds a specific character or two to follow for a couple of pages These mini arcs were engrossing, noneso than Beevor s tale of Smyslov Russian Army intelligence and Dyatlenko of the Russian NKVD These two men were ordered to give a message to General Paulus And in the Russian army, orders mean something After braving German fire, they convince a Nazi sentry to bring them into a bunker after they are blindfolded with their own parkas Once in the bunker, they finally convince the German company commander to take the message to his commander But then the commander comes back and says that he won t deliver the message When the Russians ask the German to sign a receipt for the message, which they can take to their superiors, the German refuses This is almost Shakespearean level farce One of the oddities of this book is that I found my rooting interest to be with the Germans I don t think this is entirely my fault, because there is a distinct anti Soviet bias in Beevor s telling While the German atrocities in Russia are briefly recounted at the book s start, the Russian atrocities against their own troops, no less are covered in great detail Beevor even devotes an entire chapter to explaining how much the Germans loved Christmas, and how they tried to celebrate despite freezing and starving to death Beevor even compares and contrasts the letters home from the troops While the German soldiers wrote tenderly about how much they missed hearth and home, Beevor makes clear that the Russian letters were filled with mindless propaganda Stalingrad was known as the fateful city It was Germany s high water mark Even as Stalingrad was falling, Rommel was losing in North Africa and America was gearing up to finally get in the fight From that point on, Germany would know nothing but defeat In hindsight, we are left to gasp at how close we came to a world dominated by Nazis Some might find it hard to believe that we escaped through what appears to be luck luck that Hitler made such a string of foolhardy decisions I d hardly call this luck, though To me, it was inevitable Our character is our fate A Napoleonic dictum says that to gain power, one must be absolutely petty, but to wield power, one must exercise true greatness It makes perfect sense that a self aggrandizing, paranoid delusional sociopath such as Hitler would strive for absolute power and, with a few breaks along the way, eventually achieve it But it also makes just as much sense that a self aggrandizing, paranoid delusional sociopath would be utterly unable to exercise that power, and would make stupid decisions in the unsupported belief that he was always right These traits ensured that he d get as far as Stalingrad and then self destruct


  2. Jim Jim says:

    This is a painful book to read, as it shows the horror of the war on both sides The half year battle for the streets of Stalingrad was an unremitting horror, with not only two armies, but thousands of civilians jammed into a city that was being bombed into rubble while everyone was starving or dying of thirst Apparently this book demonstrated the dangers of trying to substitute snow for water Just when the battle for the streets of Stalingrad appeared to be turning into a stalemate, with Ge This is a painful book to read, as it shows the horror of the war on both sides The half year battle for the streets of Stalingrad was an unremitting horror, with not only two armies, but thousands of civilians jammed into a city that was being bombed into rubble while everyone was starving or dying of thirst Apparently this book demonstrated the dangers of trying to substitute snow for water Just when the battle for the streets of Stalingrad appeared to be turning into a stalemate, with General Vassili Chuikov of the Soviet 62nd Army fighting Paulus s German Sixth Army to a virtual draw, Marshal Zhukov initiated an encircling movement that caught the Nazis unaware Both Hitler and his generals were astonished that the Russians had so manymen, tanks, and planes when it had seemed that there was nothing left on the Russian side but stumbling starvelings In a trice, it was the Sixth Army that turned into stumbling starvelings sans food, sans ammunition, sans fuel, sans everything Hitler forbade Paulus to surrender It was his fervent wish that the whole army commit suicide so that they could go down as heroes They didn t tens of thousands surrendered But Hitler and Goebbels tried to buffalo the German people into thinking that the whole army was wiped out.In the battle between Hitler and Stalin, it appeared that the Russian was thereasonable Hitler had no notion whatsoever of supplying a large army that was thousands of miles from its base in Central Europe He just thought that his armies could supply themselves by living off the newly occupied territories That worked to a certain extent, but how does an army make its tanks and cannon work without replacement equipment And what about ammunition As the Eastern Front collapsed toward the Volga, the Russians were closer to their base of supply in the Urals and around Moscow, while the Germans were dangerously stretched Antony Beevor has written an excellent history which should be required reading for those who think that D Day was what broke the back of the Nazi war machine The Wehrmacht units on the Ostfront would have paid to serve against the Americans and the British, instead of dying by the millions on the pitiless steppes of Russia


  3. E. G. E. G. says:

    List of IllustrationsList of MapsPreface to the New EditionPreface Stalingrad Appendix A German and Soviet Orders of Battle, 19 November 1942Appendix B The Statistical Debate Sixth Army Strength in the KesselReferencesSource NotesSelect BibliographyIndex


  4. notgettingenough notgettingenough says:

    So, I m watching a movie in German about the siege of Stalingrad last night while I m knitting and my first thought was but I won t have a clue what is going on and my second is fair enough.why should I have an unfair advantage over the poor fuckers who were there in the thick of it Just because I m watching the movie, it shouldn t give me an edge.Afterwards, explaining this to my mother, she asked, so did you get it And I m like nope, but neither did they Bunches of people being con So, I m watching a movie in German about the siege of Stalingrad last night while I m knitting and my first thought was but I won t have a clue what is going on and my second is fair enough.why should I have an unfair advantage over the poor fuckers who were there in the thick of it Just because I m watching the movie, it shouldn t give me an edge.Afterwards, explaining this to my mother, she asked, so did you get it And I m like nope, but neither did they Bunches of people being confused in the snow and doing horrible things to each other.This I greatly regret I have a friend, Josek, who was in that siege as one of many idealistic Polish volunteers who made the incredible trip there, survived despite getting TB, and was given a loaf of bread to set him on his way back to Poland if you ask me it sthan a one loaf walk, but anyway His story is as amazing as you d expect and a few years ago I decided to start interviewing him properly in order to tell it And then, in that way life is fucking unfair to people who deserve better he fell over and died.Josek was tiny, so small and frail that a strong breeze was his natural enemy He died falling over on a trip to the bathroom that doesn t surprise me but to have survived some of the worst of all the history of the world first and then die that way is ridiculous Still He would have shrugged, if he could He would have said that s life


  5. & & says:

    This is an excellent account of the battle of Stalingrad, I d place it next to Enemy at the Gates The author gives you an overview of the military situation on the Eastern Front prior to the German Offensive towards Stalingrad on the Volga The author tells the story of this terrible battle through the accounts of those soldiers who endured this inferno and survived as well as using letters and diaries of those who didn t This is a story of the fighting, not of the strategy and tactics behin This is an excellent account of the battle of Stalingrad, I d place it next to Enemy at the Gates The author gives you an overview of the military situation on the Eastern Front prior to the German Offensive towards Stalingrad on the Volga The author tells the story of this terrible battle through the accounts of those soldiers who endured this inferno and survived as well as using letters and diaries of those who didn t This is a story of the fighting, not of the strategy and tactics behind the Armies It s a good account of the battle and well worth the time to read You ll feel for those common soldiers, both German their Allies and the Russians A great book


  6. Steve Steve says:

    As with Mr Beevor s The Fall of Berlin 1945, Stalingrad is an excellent book, well written and researched I have three primary thoughts First, to synthesize the standard American narrative of the Second World War s European Theatre, it was the United States who broke the back of Nazi Germany, rescuing, yet again, the French and others from the Germans It was the United States who provided substantial material support to Russia, significantly enhancing their ability to defeat Germany While As with Mr Beevor s The Fall of Berlin 1945, Stalingrad is an excellent book, well written and researched I have three primary thoughts First, to synthesize the standard American narrative of the Second World War s European Theatre, it was the United States who broke the back of Nazi Germany, rescuing, yet again, the French and others from the Germans It was the United States who provided substantial material support to Russia, significantly enhancing their ability to defeat Germany While some of this narrative aligns with the historical record, it appears that it was Russia who turned the tide of Germany s efforts with a monumental human sacrifice and that momentous turn occurred at Stalingrad Further, Russians bore something like 60 80% of the overall allied burden in the Second World War, a thought that seems far from the minds of my fellow citizens today.Second, Hitler and Stalin appeared as undeclared contestants in an evil brutality challenge, with the result being a tie How do we process the overwhelming inhumanities that occurred during the years of that war, Stalingrad in particular Perhaps we now have some consciousness for the absolute boundaries of the miseries we all are capable of inflicting on fellow humans given the right conditions Yet typing those words feels wholly insufficient, even a mockery, given the collective amount of suffering so many endured for so long.Third, I would like to believe that the world has moved past the horrors Mr Beevor described Unfortunately, we have not Recent events in Yemen and Burma, among others, remind us that collectively we appear ignorant of the past, that somehow it is our nature to render appalling harm, regardless of what history has taught us Additionally, the popular acceptance for the nationalistic demagoguery and propaganda used by political leaders today, though often of a milder caliber than that used by Stalin and Hitler, suggests a disregard for the lessons of history, maybe even an unwillingness to study history in the first place Humanism indeed has its obstacles


  7. Sarah Sarah says:

    This book wasfrom the 6th Army German perspective, which wasn t what I was expecting But seeing as my background on this event comesfrom the Russian perspective, so it was an interesting read This book covers a lot of ground, starting with Operation Barbarossa well, really even a little bit before that and follows through some prison camps that extended into the 1950s There is a part in this book that describes a German officer who gets flown out of the 6th Army encirclement la This book wasfrom the 6th Army German perspective, which wasn t what I was expecting But seeing as my background on this event comesfrom the Russian perspective, so it was an interesting read This book covers a lot of ground, starting with Operation Barbarossa well, really even a little bit before that and follows through some prison camps that extended into the 1950s There is a part in this book that describes a German officer who gets flown out of the 6th Army encirclement late in the battle describing the desperate situation to Hitler This officer realizes as he is describing events how out of touch Hitler is, he thinks that Hitler can only think of flags and maps and not people and reality Which looking back is pretty obvious, but I wonder why other people didn t just stop the maddness How crazy do you have to be to send your fellow countrymen to their certain deaths But how much crazier do you have to be really to just stand by while that happens The Russian losses are incredible, but to their tiny bit of credit, they were invaded and spent all they could defending What they did after was indefensible, but here in the early parts of the war I can cut them a little slack This is a pretty dense and often hard to read book not technically, but on an emotional level and would only recommend to history buffs


  8. Evan Evan says:

    Did you read the one about THE END OF THE WORLD but the name, ANTONY BEEVOR, was above the title and in as big or bigger type Antony Beevor is such a brand I think Penguin Books should just go full bore and give him an official logo in lightning bolt font like some hair band of the 80s.My rating of four stars is essentially meaningless Three stars seems too severe but five seems too generous Should you read it Yes, but not as your first book on Stalingrad Go to William Craig s Enemy at the Did you read the one about THE END OF THE WORLD but the name, ANTONY BEEVOR, was above the title and in as big or bigger type Antony Beevor is such a brand I think Penguin Books should just go full bore and give him an official logo in lightning bolt font like some hair band of the 80s.My rating of four stars is essentially meaningless Three stars seems too severe but five seems too generous Should you read it Yes, but not as your first book on Stalingrad Go to William Craig s Enemy at the Gates for that, then ease into ostensiblydetailed accounts like Beevor s Beevor is for historians, but Craig and the like are for readers who enjoy a smoother narrative flow and sense of awe and context Craig had access to hundreds of living witnesses to Stalingrad and still living official sources, something Beevor did not, and the sense of on the ground humanity isvivid in Craig.The impressions from a few hastily jotted notes The meh Beevor starts with way too much context on Operation Barbarossa, unlike Craig who gets right down to Stalingrad itself Context is fine but there are plenty of better books on Barbarossa to read first Beevor quotes Russian writer Vassily Grossman so much I felt like I should be reading Grossman s accounts of the war instead Beevor seems to please a lot of readers but, based on this, he s not the storyteller that John Toland and some others are The narrative was often clausey and clunky.The yeah Lots of detail not in other Stalingrad books Again, I feel this book is a gap filler rather than a starter tome, but fine as that Lots of detail about life on the perimeters of the Kessel front, as opposed to so much on the battle in the city itself, so this is both a good and a bad thing Vivid portraits of Hell on Earth suffering on the ground Some critics of Beevor apparently call him a war porn writer, which I think is absurd War is obscene, so talking writing about it in any true way is going to necessitate obscene detail When it come to frostbite, lice, cannibalism, amputation andhorrors, Beevor delivers I found it interesting that men who d essentially created their own self Holocaust in the hopeless trap they d made for themselves at Stalingrad couldn t even get their last letters home Many of the planes carrying them crashed and scattered their final words to the winds and elements, or into the hands of Russians who used them for propaganda Sad, pathetic and banal a touch, and Beevor related such things quite well.Stalingrad is the extreme example of fake news a collective fortress mentality in thrall to a callous leader who would throw anyone particularly his followers under the bus, existing miserably in an ever tightening zone of unreality where the only possible conclusion is self delusion morphing into self suffering, madness and death.kr eg 19


  9. Stephen Stephen says:

    Stunning account of perseverance, deprivation and stupidity surrounding one of the most pivotal battles of WW II In the summer of 1942 German axis forces descended on the small city of Stalingrad, Russia, pollution 400,000 The city was of no real significance other than it carried Joesph Stalin s name Germany thought it would be an easy win for their propaganda machine It proved otherwise Over the next 9 months, the Axis threw roughly 1 MM well armed expertly trained soldiers, supported by Stunning account of perseverance, deprivation and stupidity surrounding one of the most pivotal battles of WW II In the summer of 1942 German axis forces descended on the small city of Stalingrad, Russia, pollution 400,000 The city was of no real significance other than it carried Joesph Stalin s name Germany thought it would be an easy win for their propaganda machine It proved otherwise Over the next 9 months, the Axis threw roughly 1 MM well armed expertly trained soldiers, supported by the famed Luftwaffe, at the city Russia countered with over 1 MM poorly trained, poorly armed, mostly forcibly drafted farm boys as cannon fodder Toward the end, many Russian soldiers were not even issued weapons They were told to pair up and pick up the weapon of a comrade when the comrade was killed The Luftwaffe mercilessly bombed and cannons shelled city for months The sSoldiers prowled the streets engaging close quarters fighting and sniping They turned the city to rubble Both armies were decimated An estimated 850,000 Axis soldiers were killed or wounded Over 1 MM Russians were killed or wounded Germany lost and retreated in its first major defeat of WW II Beevor s account is highly readable, well researched and astounding It is considered one of the seminal works on the battle and deservedly so.As a companion piece, I recommend the movie Enemy at the Gates starring Jude Law and Ed Harris Law plays Vassili Zaitsev who became a Hero of Russia for killing 225 Axis soldiers including 11 opposing snipers during the battle Harris plays a fictional German sniper While they are pitted against each other in a fanciful cat and mouse Hollywood contest, the visuals the devastation of the city and deprivation of citizens unable to escape bring Beevor s account to life.One of my favorite historical reads Highly recommended


  10. Bettie Bettie says:

    Description The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II it also changed the face of modern warfare Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor s magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II s most harrowing battle.In August 1942, Hitler s huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin s name In the five month siege that followed, the Russians fought to hold Stalingrad at any cost then, in an astonishing revers Description The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II it also changed the face of modern warfare Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor s magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II s most harrowing battle.In August 1942, Hitler s huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin s name In the five month siege that followed, the Russians fought to hold Stalingrad at any cost then, in an astonishing reversal, encircled and trapped their Nazi enemy This battle for the ruins of a city costthan a million lives Stalingrad conveys the experience of soldiers on both sides, fighting in inhuman conditions, and of civilians trapped on an urban battlefield Antony Beevor has interviewed survivors and discovered completely new material in a wide range of German and Soviet archives, including prisoner interrogations and reports of desertions and executions As a story of cruelty, courage, and human suffering, Stalingrad is unprecedented and unforgettable.Antony Beevor why did Ukraine ban my book After the Ukraine government condemned his book Stalingrad, Antony Beevor reflects on governments desire to alter the past and warns of the dangers of censorshipOpening THE WORLD WILL HOLD ITS BREATH Part 1, Chapter one The Double Edged Sword of Barbarossa Saturday, 21 June 1941, produced a perfect summer s morning Many Berliners took the train out to Potsdam to spend a day in the park of Sans Souci